My trip to Canada was timed for my aunt's eighty-second birthday so I could be there to celebrate her along with some of our family. My Auntie Betty died in October last year, she was the youngest sister, my mom was the middle sis. Auntie Margaret is the eldest and feels survivors guilt for out living both her sisters. I did my best to help her let go of this feeling and focus on the love they shared. She is healthy and quite sharp for her age and still mobile and walks her little Yorkie daily. She was moving into a suite at an upscale assited living facility so she'd no longer have the upkeep of her house. Smart decision. She has a gentleman friend moving there as well, I think the company and activities will be stimulating and engaging—and comforting to know a nurse is only a call away if needed.

My aunt and I talked for hours I didn't miss a moment to ask for childhood stories and for her to tell me about her life. Margaret was married for almost fifty years she and Uncle Jack never had children but she has nieces and nephews from mom and Betty. I remembered my aunt telling me stories when I would visit about a mouse family that simply fascinated me. I asked Betty about the stories once and she smiled and said that wasn't me that was Margaret! Really I insisited, are you sure? Yes, she made them up and told them to all the kids at one time or another; weren't they great!?  This trip I made sure to tell Margaret how dearly I loved those stories and how she helped instill the seed of storytelling in me when I was ripe and ready.

Being with her since both Betty and mom have left us made our time especially dear to me. And so often I would see a mannerism that was mom's or a laugh or expression that was Betty's and it was a comfort to see how we live on in our family. At my cousin's house we all told as many Betty and Dorothy stories as we could recall and shared ones others hadn't heard and got a kick out of. This was a healing, rejuvenating, memory making time for me and I am so thankful I gave myself this gift and listened to my wise self when she said, I think I'd like to visit Aunt Margaret for her birhtday this year.

She sent me home with these treasures, here's my lovely aunt on her wedding day:





Margaret with bridesmaids: that's my mom on the left!


Clarke family 1941

The Clarke girls with their mum apx 1943:

Tallest is Margaret, mom is middle, Betty on right in front of their mum.