Last week we received the sad news that my Aunt Ethel passed away at the age of 99. She had been quite active up until a few weeks before her death including driving her car. luncheons, making strawberry jam.
Aunt Ethel taught me more than she’ll ever know: what a spirited civil issue debate is (after all she was a Republican from California and I a liberal from Massachusetts). What a good laugh is – especially at yourself; How far you’ll get with people by being polite but assertive, the value of friends – old and new.
I didn’t learn until after she passed that she was the first female loan officier for the Bank of America and how many hundreds of people whose lives she touched.
My relationship with my Aunt can be illustrated by this story.
I lived out in Silicon Valley near my Aunt for a while in the 80s and after I moved went back i continued to visit several times. One morning I went to visit her and she said we had a project for that day: FRUITCAKES! And so it began.
Ethel didn’t make 3 or 4 fruitcakes for Christmas presents: She made 20-40 and dispensed them to all.
My assigned task was to chop walnuts and chop and chop and chop. We talked and laughed as I chopped walnuts and they sometimes escaped from the chopping block to locations unknown in the kitchen.
Finally she needed my brut strength to mix the dough (it was just too tough for the food processor) and they were poured into the pans to bake. We sat down for a rest and chatted the time away til dinner. i finished my visit to California and headed back east.
A year os later she came east to visit my mom and when we all had dinner, she turned to me and put apiece of walnut next to me and said, I’ve been finding these all over the house since we made fruitcakes. She had a big smile when she said, “We had a good time, didn’t we?” We laughed and laughed. She never failed to mention continuing to find walnuts every-they just cropped up from time-to-time. And we’d have a laugh.