My Aunt Helen died today. She was 87. She has had positive influences on my life that I appreciate to this day. This is my belated effort to say thanks for all of it, though I will only mention a few things here.
First, I love gardening and fresh produce in large part because of my aunt. I grew up in a three flat in Chicago with a few houseplants but no gardening option. One year my aunt bought a home in Des Plaines and it had a large back yard. She invited my mother to venture into vegetable gardening with her and gave my mom her own plot to garden. That was probably the best gift my mother ever received. She jumped on it and for several years would look forward to the summer weekend gardening activities in my Aunt Helen’s yard and would return home with her treasures of fresh veggies. That’s when I started learning to love it. The difference between freshly harvested tomatoes and green beans from the canned, frozen or store bought produce I was used to was amazing to me.
Second, my aunt was an avid reader and a few years ago in a letter she wrote that her favorite book was The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. So I read it (it’s like 900 pages long) and I concur with her, that is a great read and one of my favorites too (though I remember loving the classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as a kid—kind of a tie for me).
She was a loyal employee. She was an independent and self-sufficient woman. She made a great poppy-seed cake and a lime and cottage cheese jello mold that we all loved as kids.
Last Friday, my daughter finished her last college class and earned her bachelor’s degree. Since her car died several months ago (let’s just call it another lesson learned and leave it at that) we have been carpooling and I picked her up on campus after I left work. It was like coming full circle for me. I remember very well the first day I drove her to Montessori preschool and she told me quite confidently that morning, “Mom, you can leave now.”
Though this is an obvious milestone for my daughter, she is my youngest and it is also a (HUGE) milestone for me and my husband. A parenting destination that we hoped for and have been slowly working on since my son and daughter were born: they will both grow up and finish college. Now, it’s done. Not that this is the end of the road, but our lives and our family have taken on new directions this year.
We are ready for the challenge. I, for one, am excited about it!