Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aunt Sally

As I lay in bed this morning just after sunrise, my mind somewhere between being asleep and almost awake, my thoughts turned to the days of my early childhood. I remembered Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally was my paternal grandfather’s sister who died in her late 80’s when I wasn’t much more than 10 years old. I haven’t thought about her in years so why was I remembering her now?

Aunt Sally was a petite, frail woman and by the time I was old enough to have any permanent recollection of her, she was bedridden. I can picture her lying in her bed in a small, cheerfully decorated bedroom. A gentle breeze from the window brought relief from the hot Alabama summer day. She was sitting up in bed for our visit. A thick white, nylon rope, tied to the footboard of her bed was there for her to pull herself up. Aunt Sally had short, silky gray, curly hair and a smile was always on her face.

A year or so later, I recall going to her funeral at a tiny rural Baptist church, surrounded by tall oak trees, with a cemetery outside. It was at the end of a long, narrow dirt road. The church had seating for no more than 75 people and it was packed beyond capacity for Aunt Sally’s funeral. Children sat in their parent’s lap so there was more room for seating. Women were dressed in their Sunday best with stylish hats and gloves, typical of 1950’s custom.

A soloist, accompanied by a piano, sang off key. That was long before the days of professional vocalists and musicians performing in churches. The pastor, in his late 70’s, and definitely not as polished as today’s clergy, rambled on in a monologue that caused me to squirm and ask, “Is this almost over, I need to go potty.”

For years after her death, my relatives often talked about Aunt Sally. These conversations always focused on Aunt Sally’s positive outlook on life in spite of the fact that she had lived through the Great Depression and other burdens that life brought her way. She found joy in everyday life. You just felt good after being around Aunt Sally, I was told.

I was jolted back to the present day as Molly began pawing at me from my bedside, letting me know it was time to get up and let her outside and then feed her.

Later, I sat with my coffee in my living room, with Molly clamoring for my attention. My thoughts drifted back to Aunt Sally. How is it that over 50 years later, a distant relative who I spent little time with, could have such a grip on my thoughts, I kept asking myself? I picked up Molly’s ball and rolled it across the room for her to fetch. CNN was reporting on yesterday’s shooting rampage in Binghamton, NY by a nut case who decided he couldn’t deal with real life anymore. A short time later, there is breaking news of yet another shooting in Pittsburgh with 3 police officers hit in gunfire. There is the world economy. . . people losing their jobs. . . desperation almost everywhere you look. In my own job, I am faced daily with frustrating office politics. I suspect my situation is no different than everyone else who is fortunate enough to have a job these days.

Aunt Sally lived through a lot of personal and national problems. Yet back then you didn’t hear of people going on shooting rampages or protesting in the streets. Immigrants that came to this country were welcomed and they worked hard to learn our language and assimilate into our culture. Everyday people learned to deal with whatever life brought their way in a positive way.

Now, don’t think for a minute that I wish we could go back to the days of yesteryear. . . after all, I couldn’t get along without my e-mail jokes from friends, or the blogs that I follow, or the status I have today as a woman. Remember when a married woman could not get a bank loan because she was “of childbearing age”? And a divorced woman was looked at with scorn. Mutterings of “Suzy, you can’t play with the Smith children, they come from a broken home” were common.

We’ve come a long way. But I think the lessons of resourcefulness and perseverance from days gone by still hold value today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sherry,I finally found the time to pay a visit to your blog,and had to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your posts.I will be coming by more often now.I totally agree with you on your last post,why do people resort to violence now?Why take innocent lives?It is just beyond me.We all have ups and downs in life,Ive had my share(and someone elses too I suspect!) just pick yourself up and get on with it.Anyway,welcome to my blog,and I will be visiting you often,Have a happy and safe Easter :0)


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