When An Entire Generation Passes

              This week my Aunt “Pinkie” died, just short of her 97th birthday. I have no aunts or uncles left now.  Her five children are surely now experiencing that sense of being “orphaned.”

              Her given name was actually Betty.  In the way that names sometimes run in families, I had another “Aunt Bettie,” my mother was named Betty and my sister-in-law Elizabeth is known as Betty.  But Pinkie was more often known by her nickname due to her red hair. 

              My favorite memory of her occurred when I was about four or five years old.  My parents and I had gone to visit. Unlike my parents’ small home where my bed was located in my parents’ bedroom, I discovered at my aunt’s and uncle’s home, I was put to bed in a big bedroom by myself.  Even now, I can remember feeling scared and alone.  I began, first softly, then more loudly, to call out for my parents.  It seemed like my aunt suddenly appeared and recognized how distressed I was.  I don’t remember where I ended up, only that she was so understanding and immediately corrected the situation.

              My aunts and uncles were mostly peripheral during my growing up years.  I saw them mostly at family reunions whenever they occurred.  But somehow they provided a comfortable backdrop of caring relatives who always seemed happy to see me, predictably proclaiming how much I’d grown.  I can recall thinking, “Of course I’ve grown.  What did they expect?” 

              As one and then another has died, I am aware of how valuable even that limited amount of contact was. When I became an aunt at 17, I so valued my new role. I, too, am on the periphery of my nephews’ lives.  Yet one of my proudest moments was a few years ago when the oldest posted tribute to me on Face Book. 

              The slender threads of connection can be more meaningful than we know,  so much more solid than we recognize.

               May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

              Hope’s Café Bonus:  I discovered if you google aunt that you will discover there is a national aunts and uncles day. (Who knew?):”National Aunts and Uncles Day is observed every July 26. Our aunts and uncles are unique parts of our family; they can be like a second set of parents, or great friends you happen to be related to.”

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