Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Number One Aunt

Doing what she does best . . .

There's one in almost every family.
That wonderful Aunt who collects children and adults around her like a rock star.
Our family has one.
The Aunt, I mean, not the rock star.
I will call her Aunt June.
Or AJ for short.
Where she is, there are changing hair colours.
Plenty of hugs.
And much laughter.
She might be tiny, but she's mighty.
She was one of the last to join my mother's family, marrying the youngest brother, Leif.
And has been a joy to the entire family ever since.
AJ was a city girl.
She and my Uncle met at a dance class.
Which he was taking.
And she was teaching.
It was love at first . . . step? Twirl? Swoop?
All of the above.
They courted.
People did that back then.
They did that, too.
And set up housekeeping.
*  *  *
AJ knew that her new husband came from a long line of ranch stock.
Known horsemen and women.
She decided that she need to fit in.
She would take riding lessons.
Presenting herself at the local stables, she was paired up with a gentle horse.
She groomed it.
Talked to it.
Hugged it.
Even got up on its back.
When telling the rest of us about this experience, she exclaimed, “It was such a sweet gentle horse. I could climb all over it and it never even moved!”
Whereupon (good word) Uncle Leif, in his quiet, dry manner said, “Because it was stuffed!”
That earned him a smack on the shoulder.
* * *
AJ has long been a great favourite with my children.
Have I mentioned that my children have a rather bizarre sense of humour.
Heaven knows where that came from . . .
When our eldest son was married, AJ and the rest of the great Berg family were all invited to the festivities.
Two of our sons brought a clipboard to the party.
I wasn't sure why.
Until AJ showed up.
She was met by the aforementioned sons . . . and their clipboard . . . as she queued up to enter the building.
“Aunt June.”
Obvious checking of a 'list'.
“I'm sorry, Ma'am, you're not on the list.” Turning to Uncle Leif. “You, sir, you're okay to go in.”
“Oh!” Aunt June said, laughing. “You come here! I'll show you a list!”
Remember where I said tiny, but mighty?
That would apply here
* * *
At the time of my eldest daughter's wedding a year later, our second son was deployed in Bosnia. We had a life-sized picture of him made and hung on the wall in the foyer of the church.
Life-sized is, for him, really, really tall.
In the picture, his hand was extended.
Written beside this hand were the words, 'You must be this tall to get into the reception. Except for you, Aunt June. You have KP. Get to the kitchen!'
We were all standing in the reception line, greeting and smiling.
Suddenly a loud cry emanated from the front foyer.
We all looked at each other.
“Aunt June is here!” my Husby said.
* * *
When our military son was preparing for his overseas tour, AJ was more than a bit concerned.
She insisted that he couldn't go unless he received her 'official permission'.
Finally, my Husby drafted up a letter for her to sign.
In it, our son's 'commanding officer' agreed to:
  1. Ensure that Erik ate well and was happy and healthy.
  2. Was in no danger.
  3. Was tucked in at night.
  4. Jammies donned.
  5. And Teeth brushed.
  6. With his teddy bear.
  7. And that said CO would read him his bedtime story.
All in return for her support.
AJ signed.
Then kept close tabs on our overseas son.
* * *
I was recently at a gathering of my wonderful Berg family.
AJ was there.
Warmly welcoming everyone – and I do mean everyone - with a firm hug and lively interest.
Does your family have an Aunt June?
If not, we loan her out.
Sort of a 'Have Hugs – Will Travel' program.
There's certainly plenty of love to go around.

P.S. We love you, Aunt June.


  1. Your family certainly knows how to have fun.

    1. I'm so glad you appreciate it. Not everyone does . . .

  2. Ah yes, Aunt 'June". She's the best. And it isn't an official get-together until someone asks what colour her hair is this time, and she shows up to tell you!

  3. I wish we had an Aunt Jane! :-) I would love to spend some time in your family. Unfortunately, on my side there are not too many people left and on my husband's side-- too much drama. I love reading your posts... I feel like I am right there.

    1. You're always welcome to join us, Julia! We do have a lot of fun!

  4. I think I love Aunt June. :) Thanks for sharing her with us!

  5. First--Thank you for your son's's appreciated greatly. Second--I just hope you know that I spit the water out of my mouth when I read Uncle Leif's response about the "gentle horse!" Thank you for a wonderful belly laugh tonight! I love everything you share on NOBH. ;)
    Love and God Bless,

    1. Thank you so much, Christy! You keep me writing!!


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