Yesterday (Sunday, that would be) was a bit of a rough day for two families in this area.
I've known for the better part of this past week that a good friend of mine was having some tough days she had to go through as her mother was very ill, (had a stroke AND a heart attack last weekend) and I've been talking to her, off and on this week, to try to give her aid and comfort if possible.
This evening, I learned that her Mom had passed away this afternoon. My friend's daughter had posted it on Facebook and as I am "friends" there with the daughter, I saw the post.
After seeing that post, reading on down on my Facebook wall, I came upon another post and the second one really floored me.
It was written by the daughter of one of my former neighbors when I was a kid. And, in that post, she mentioned that it was a very sad day for her Mom's family as well as two other families that are all inter-connected because one of her aunts had passed away Sunday morning!
This lady's aunt who passed was a very dear friend of mine and also, of my kids!
I used to babysit for her children back when I was in high school -when her sister my age couldn't watch her nieces and nephews there, I frequently babysat those younguns!
Going back to when I was about in 7th or 8th grade and at that time, used to go to this family's home with the lady's younger sister who was my age, one day when I was there with her as she was babysitting -and also, doing laundry too for her sister, I don't know exactly how our conversation turned to names and nicknames for people -something like that -but at any rate, we decided that from then on, we would refer to this couple as "Uncle Joe Benny" and "Aunt Helen Ann" and since that time, I always called them by that -to their faces -and also, always referred to them by those names too in general conversation.
A way of renaming someone kind of as a joke but which stuck from then on for me and when my kids came along, they too began referring to them as Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe or Aunt Helen Ann (when you needed to be really specific or Uncle Benny. Old habits really die hard.
Now I knew that Aunt Helen was having a lot of health issues. She's had several cardiac surgeries over the past 10 years or so, plus diabetes and a few other things too from time to time, but she had always bounced back and I guess I just developed the attitude and idea that she was, indeed, invincible.
Well, not this time.
I've always enjoyed spending time with her -just as I did with Uncle Joe too, frequently. I'm very interested in local history and anytime I wanted extra information about history of the village, or on someone from way back when, Uncle Joe was frequently my "go to" person. He was very knowledgeable about things like that and I think he enjoyed my coming to him and asking him questions as much as I enjoyed listening and learning from him.
And Aunt Helen -well, how can I ever describe her!
She was -I think -the zaniest and craziest, big-hearted, hard-working woman I have ever know! Rarely would a conversation with her take place but what she didn't have a wise crack or quip about everything and anything you'd ever think of!
When her daughter and her late son-in-law ran the local little restaurant-bar where Mandy used to work (for about 5 years she worked there), as one walked into the dining area just behind the bar area, there was a large table there, in the center, that seated at least 6 people easily and could also squeeze in 8 or 10 people, if need be, provided some of them weren't really large individuals! And it was that table where many of us would gravitate to because Aunt Helen was already seated there or just on the off chance, that while you were there for coffee or a bite to eat, if Aunt Helen did stop by then, you know she would sit at that table.
It was the Family table, but also for friends of the family too.
And no matter what kind of mood a person was in just being able to sit at that table and talk with Aunt Helen and some of her other children, or other family members, guaranteed you would leave there smiling, at the very least but more often than not, you would leave chuckling over some wise crack or observation she had made there.
I spent many an evening at Aunt Helen's house over the years, as we would talk and joke and drink -usually beer, but occasionally, have a shot or two too! And the stories she could and would tell and I would end up leaving there, often more than a bit tipsy but also, never depressed or angry.
She just had a knack that way!
Her house, when I was in high school, was the place to go for a lot of fun, laughter and tricks at times too! She could be one heck of a prankster too when she wanted to pull a practical joke on someone!
I think she was probably one of the few individuals who ever lived here in this little village that only someone who was living under a rock didn't know her, didn't respect her for her abilities and ambition too! She raised 6 children while working daily at the little diner/restaurant/gas station she and her husband, Uncle Joe, owned and operated.
And, I can't think of anyone else whose kids revered their parents more than those six always did with Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe!
She was totally just "Good People" if you understand calling someone that!
And I am definitely going to miss her. Boy, am I ever!
Just the same way I still miss Uncle Joe Benny too!
Aunt Helen -you may no longer be here with us but for sure, you will NEVER EVER be forgotten as long I am around, as long as my kids are around too.
The BEST! You and Uncle Joe both, the Very BEST!
Peace be with both of you now.