My mom was one of twelve. And each of those twelve took a spouse. So I had lots of uncles and aunts. Those who married into the family jokingly called themselves the “outlaws”. We didn’t think of them as in-laws, though, they were all our aunts and uncles.
Tuesday evening, my Aunt Betty, the last surviving member of that generation passed away. She was the widow of Mom’s youngest brother, Stanley, who died in 2004.
Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty lived in Pennsylvania their entire married life. But every summer, they returned to Uncle Stanley’s hometown, which was also my hometown, for a week’s vacation.
Aunt Betty embraced her husband’s family as her own. His maternal genealogy had already been extensively documented, so she took on the task of researching his father’s side of the family. In doing so, she stirred up quite the hornet’s nest when she learned that, apparently, his grandfather was illegitimate. (Some in the family insisted that she just had NOT looked in the right place to find the marriage information, as well as the father’s name.)
One of my fondest memories of Aunt Betty took place the summer that I was seven years old. It just happened that, while they were in the area on vacation, my mom took a bad fall and severely broke her ankle. She was rushed to the hospital, underwent surgery and remained in the hospital for three days.
My mom and I were practically inseparable at that time, and it was just unheard of for me to spend the night anywhere else but with her. But, that incident required that I stay the night with my grandmother (and the next couple of nights with my sister). Since Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty were visiting Grandma, Aunt Betty helped me get ready for bed that night. They had a daughter my age, so I’m guessing that she, too, probably spent that night with Grandma. I just remember how kind Aunt Betty was to a little girl who was missing her mom and scared that she was hurt and in the hospital.
My mom’s family had an annual reunion (also here in our hometown in Virginia), and Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty were always there. Aunt Betty kept a “guest book”, and at each reunion, she went around to every person there, hugged them and had them sign the book.
A photo of Aunt Betty was shared by her family on Facebook this week, following her death. And this comment was left by one of my cousins: “Aunt Betty is now passing around her little book in heaven, getting the Ellis family’s signatures recorded for their reunion in heaven.”
Yes, indeed: sign in, all you Ellis family members. Aunt Betty has arrived with the guest book.
Aunt Betty & Uncle Stanley
Family Reunion, 1998
~These Days Of Mine~