Aunt Nuni died on her 92nd birthday in March 2014. She was laid to rest next to my uncle in the scenic rural setting near Huntsville, TX. The day was sunny but windy. Leaves blew in the winds which March often brings. Attending her funeral brought back to memory a story my Mom had shared, that being the day Aunt Nuni was born.
Back then, where babies came from left to the imagination. Often the introduction and explanation of a new family member created more questions than answers. My Mom recalled that March day in 1922 with vivid clarity. She was playing outside with her doll whom she lovingly placed in a doll buggy. My grandmother asked if she would like to go to the neighbor’s to play with their daughter? Mom replied that she did and off she went. As she pushed the buggy down the sidewalk little did she know how soon her world would change. As a six year old she had seen many changes in her young life but with my grandmother’s recent marriage – life seemed to settle down.
Later that day – Mom returned home only to find a beautiful baby had taken up residence. Mama could not phantom where she came from or who had brought her? She asked her parents the obvious questions and was told the stark had brought her. Mama wasn’t too sure but she thought the stark was a big bird who kept visiting the neighborhood. Her little mind raced but not as fast as her legs as she went outside and peered into the sky. She wondered if the stark was still in the neighborhood? She wondered if he would come back with more babies? She also feared.
Her fears real as four years before her older brother Sanford had died from diphtheria. She remembered one day he was in his bed and the next day he was gone. She didn’t know where. Her questions resulted in such answers as he was on a vacation to he was in heaven. She was just two years old but asked as best she could if she could visit him or would he be returning? The emotional trauma this caused my Mom would explain her concern as to her sister’s safety. Mama remembered holding Natalie’s (or Nuni as she would be called) fat little hand in case the stark changed his mind. After all the stark could have been the one who stole her brother? Mama remembered begging her parents to nail the windows shut and lock all the doors at night.
By the time my aunt and uncle were born Mama figured out the stark had nothing to do with their arrival. Mama often said “Children should be provided information when they are ready for the responsibility of the information.” In this high tech world I see a danger in access to so much too soon. I see cruelty in withholding information that a beloved brother had died as well. There must be a balance – tempered by wisdom and a clarity on conscience.
My aunt did grow up, faced a world war, married and had three children who have produced children and grandchildren. My aunt was described by many as beautiful and she was. She was also an excellent cook and many looked forward to family gatherings just to sample her cuisine.
Aunt Lillian is the only aunt I have left. Mama died in 2000 as did Uncle Johnny. My grandmother died in 1985 and her second husband John Dinan many years before. When I think of them, of memories from so long ago I have to realize I have been given a gift – which must be passed on and cherished – and thus I will honor their memories.