And Then There Were None

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~

16 responses to “And Then There Were None

  1. So sorry for your family’s loss…..”the last one” is always the most touching in some ways…last connections, etc. but then again you have such a huge number of remaining family members – you will ALL share memories of Aunt Betty and her guest book…..very special!

    Hugs, Pam

  2. What a sweet, sweet memorial of your Aunt Betty and family. Sorry for your loss, but loved remembering them. We always remembered their visits with Bennie & Doris.

  3. Wonderful memories and wonderful thoughts of all of them being reunited! Our family also uses the term “out-laws” when we take pics at Christmas get-togethers:)

  4. Thank you! You made me smile

  5. Seeing this picture & hearing about her making the rounds at the family reunions made me remember everything !
    A fine tribute …

  6. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    So sorry for your loss, Dianna. You have such a wonderful way with words and I know your Aunt Betty is very pleased. ❤

  7. So sorry for your loss Dianna but what wonderful memories you have of Aunt Betty.

  8. Beautifully written Dianna. Thank you for your story.

  9. I am so sorry Dianna about your Aunt Betty. I know how heartbreaking it is when there are none. You have written a very sweet tribute to her.

  10. What a nice tribute to a dear aunt. Dianna, I too am sorry for your loss but your words in memory of your aunt are so lovely. I know how it feels to realize that then there are none. My mom was an only child and my dad was the last (and youngest) to pass from his family, so I’ve also experienced that. It’s sad but their legacy lives on in our memories and it’s good to share those with others. I imagine your family is enjoying their reunion in heaven. 🙂 Just curious, but where did they live in PA?

  11. Your Aunt Betty sounds like she was a wonderful lady.

  12. I’m sorry Dianna. It’s always sad to lose someone who not only held the family history, but a special place in your heart.

  13. I’m sorry for your loss, Dianna. Your tribute to your aunt is heartwarming. I did chuckle a bit at the part, “…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.)” In researching my own family I’ve come across other folks with similar stories of unexpected family members, including my own! It sounds like your Aunt Betty took it all in stride though. That book she kept seems to say it all, family is family. Wonderful story.

  14. What a lovely memory of a wonderful woman! THanks so very much for sharing your Aunt and your story with us!
    Love you
    Barb (Nellie’s Mom)

  15. What a lovely tribute to your Aunt Betty! She sounds like she was a wonderful woman. I’d like to extend my condolences.

  16. A wonderful tribute to a very special lady.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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