Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Auntie Anna

I'm going to veer away from the original political intent of this Blog spot for just a little bit, and write something to remember my great aunt, Anna. On Thursday Anna, at 96, passed away. She and I were the last blood relatives left. Anna personified many things for me, among them traditions, love and what I imagine is true middle America. So I'd like to take a minute to remember her and why she influenced me like she did.
For 49 birthdays I always got a card or phone call from Anna. No matter where in the world I was or what adventures or mis-adventures I had gotten up to, we kept in touch. She never missed a birthday or Christmas. We didn't see each other for 30 years, but we wrote and called and most years I remembered her too, although was forgiven for the times I forgot. When her daughter died last year my husband and I made the decision to move back here (a place I had vowed to leave forever) to look after her.
Anna, and her daughter who never married, were bright spots in a childhood that made me turn my back on my true home. I learned a lot from the two of them. I learned to bake the best sugar cookies in the world, a secret recipe involving pork chops, rice and orange juice; that frogs sometimes come out of the pump, that chickens like table food and Lilies of the Valley should always grow around the north side of your house. I also learned what it meant to never be judged, even when heading Hell-bent down the wrong road. I learned about God and messages of truth in the Bible. The two of them taught me that you don't need "things" to find pleasure in the world around you. The list could go on forever, from practical skills to philosophical thought.
Women like Anna used to be the true backbone of our country. I actually remember times when the men ate first because they were busy with the harvest. We girls never thought there was anything "sexist" about that (at least not until we were told by people who had no idea of why such things happened). You fed them, hurried them back to work then had a leisurely lunch chatting and cleaning up the kitchen and spending time with each other. Women used to be the teachers of values, the drier of tears, the strength behind their men and the bond that held families and traditions together. How many girls today can grow and can their vegetables or make a meal from next to nothing? How many young women don't understand the importance of simply being a woman and doing the things that we were made to do? We are here to nurture, love and teach. It truly seems that as we disregard our true destiny and hand our kids over to daycare and instant food that we, in so doing, are changing the very foundations of this country.
What can we do? There are so many elderly people who have no one or have to live in care facilities. These overlooked treasures would love a visit or some one to reminisce with. It is amazing how much you can still learn, no matter how old you get. The feeling once can get from sharing with and helping an elderly person is great. Mentoring is another way to help our society. If a young girl sees love and happiness in a family she may be more receptive to the traditions and values that make that family strong. That girl may just be the next me, and you might just be someone's Auntie Anna. She would really like that.

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