My mother's last surviving sibling died this morning at the tender age of 97. Had he lived until March 21st, he would have celebrated his 98th birthday.
Mom was the fifth child and second daughter in a family of five sons and three daughters. My Uncle was the fourth child and third son. The sons were tall and fair-haired and some with a hint of ginger, and most of them were almost bald by the time I showed up among the last of the grandchildren. The daughters were beautiful inside and out, strong and independent women: one brunette, one blond, and one redhead. My Mom was the blond.
Their tales of growing up were hilarious and innocent. Children of a farmer and a teacher, they grew up living a simple life. Mom told me that they really didn't know there was a depression when it happened.
They grew their own vegetables and fruit, raised cows, chickens and pigs, and helped their parents in the house and in the fields. Listening to the radio was a treat. Driving into town was an adventure for their lively crew.
Their father was on the school board, and some of the female teachers boarded with the family. That did not stop my mother and her siblings from playing pranks on the teachers though. I heard many a tall tale of teachers opening drawers to find garter snakes and frogs hiding, getting drenched when walking by an open upper story window at the house or the school and having their car temporarily disabled.
When I was a very small girl, their family farm, long since sold to pay their father's medical bills, was partially flooded by a dam. I remember asking Mom why we couldn't buy the land and tell the power company that they couldn't build on that property. Ah, the innocence of youth!
It is the end of a very special era. All of their memories live on through the few we were able to persuade them to write down or let one of us record and through us and our memories. I have some recipes from my grandmother and oh so many memories of each of them telling me stories of their family and friends.
I keep saying that one day I will sit down and write a book about them. Maybe I should get started?
And for my mother and her brothers and sisters, especially my Uncle who joined them today, remember: until I see you all again, I love you more.