Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Aunt Emily


Sometimes you think you know someone.
But you really don't . . .
My Dad is the youngest of eleven children.
Nine boys.
And two girls.
The youngest girl, my Aunt Mary, was a short, round, happy lady with numerous children and even more numerous grandchildren.
More about her in another post . . .
His other sister, Emily, was an entirely different person.
Emily was the eldest child in the family.
She was a tall, spare, maiden lady.
Erect and correct.
And I was terrified of her.
Emily had served a mission for her church in her early twenties.
Briefly entertained the thought of marriage.
And lived the rest of her life teaching home economics and helping her mother care for the family home.
She was the professed cleaner to my Grandmother's cooking.
The maker of everything tidy.
The bestow-er of a set of sewing scissors to every niece who reached grade nine.
And the dragon in the den at the top of the stairs.
A note . . .
Aunt Emily's office was the first room to the left as one went up the stairs of the family home.
It was a lovely place. Neat and organized.
With a little window/door that opened out onto the roof/sundeck of the garage.
Us kids loved to sneak into that room and let ourselves out onto that deck.
But only when Aunt Emily wasn't about.
Back to my story . . .
Throughout my childhood, I loved visiting Grandma Stringam's home with my parents.
But walked softly around Aunt Emily.
When I was eighteen, all of that changed.
I had moved to the city to attend college.
Journalism.
Go figure.
For four months, I stayed with my Grandma and Aunt Emily.
At first, though I'm sure they tried to make me feel welcome, I spent very little time in their home.
Choosing, instead to study at the college or at a friend's and returning only at bedtime.
Then I got sick.
Really, really sick.
Strep throat.
Ugh.
One evening, after we had put the paper to bed (a newspaper term for sending everything to the press and washing our hands of all responsibility), I collapsed.
My friends carried me, quite literally, to my grandmother's home and to my little bed on the second floor.
I remember very little of it.
There, safely ensconced, I lost all consciousness for several days.
Someone took care of me.
Gave me liquids.
Fed me.
Cleaned up after me.
Helped me to the bathroom.
Hauled me to the hospital for a shot in the backside.
I do remember that . . .
And generally took excellent care of me.
As I slowly became more cognisant, I realized that the person who had been so patiently and lovingly nursing me was my scary Aunt Emily.
One afternoon, I opened my eyes and felt . . . almost human.
Aunt Emily appeared beside my bed.
“Feeling better?”
I nodded uncertainly.
“Oh, I'm so glad! I'm going to the store to get you something special. What would you like?”
And it was then that I realized that eighteen years had gone by without me knowing my special aunt at all.
Eighteen years of misunderstanding and unwarranted fear.
Wasted years.
I wasted no more.
In the following weeks and months, we became friends.
Aunt Emily died at the age of 85 from complications following surgery.
We were given twenty five years of friendship.
I will always be grateful.

20 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. She was a special person. I'm glad I found out in time!

      Delete
  2. I got strep in high school and only remember a week of my mother waking me up to drink orange juice. I got it again in college, with no mom and no Aunt Emily. Pretty awful stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only imagine! I don't know what I would have done with out Aunt Emily!

      Delete
  3. Oh what a beautiful story we all can learn so much from! I'm so glad you had the chance for that friendship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So nearly missed. Thank goodness for strep! And you don't hear that very often!

      Delete
  4. What a sweet story! I'm so glad you got the time to be close.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. It is one of my favourite experiences. Strep throat aside . . .

      Delete
  6. Emily was quite bitter throughout her life. She was going hot and heavy with her beau and when they were making plans for marriage, Emily told him that she was barren. He up and disappeared, marrying someone else whom, he discovered to his horror, was also barren (I like that biblical term). I think it took me until I was in college to understand her but we never did really get along. I still used to stop and visit, and they were usually cordial albeit guarded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poor Emily. I never knew her story till I was quite grown. Glad I found out . . .

      Delete
  7. It's always nice to have an Aunt Emily like the one you had.
    You all come from very large families.It must be a lot of fun.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this. Thanks for painting this picture for me. It was just the respite I needed today. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're most welcome, Ginger! Thank you for visiting!

      Delete
  9. I can imagine that getting to know you and love you for the next 25 years was one of the nicest things to happen to your aunt. You both possibly healed each other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was certainly grateful! She was a wonderful person!

      Delete
  10. Reminds me of how I was with Aunt Chris till I was twelve...

    ReplyDelete

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