I recently lost two lovely people in my life; my Aunt Do and Uncle Don. I don’t know why we called her Aunt Do, her name was Gloria. I think one of my cousins couldn’t say her name and that’s where the nickname Do-Do came from.
There are so many memories of growing up around them, surrounded by their love.
Jesse’s earliest memory of Aunt Do and Uncle Don was spending time at their house visiting. Jesse would play in the closet in Walt’s room. It was a big closet, with stickers all over the door. Jesse and her cousins would pretend many different things, it was a spaceship, it was a time machine; whatever their imagination could conjure. They always had the greatest adventures at Aunt Do and Uncle Dons’.
Jesse clamored over the tailgate into the back of the station wagon with her two cousins and brother. She watched as her aunts and mother all piled into the seats of the car. This was their monthly shopping trip and lunch out. Jesse loved this trip. They would stop at the butchers’ shop, where all the kids would get a hunk of cheese. Then it would be onto the grocery store with the sawdust on the floor. Jesse would drag her feet through it, annoying her mother. After the grocery store, they would stop at Pizza Hut for lunch. Jesse loved being able to eat her own whole pizza.
The ride home would be more cramped with groceries and meats for all four aunts and Jesse’s mom. But the cousins would all swish together and yell when the load would shift around the turns. Aunt Do would stop and drop everyone off, the kids helping carry in the bags at each stop.
After greeting Aunt Do upstairs, she ran to the basement door and down the steps. In the basement there was a finished off area with a pool and ping pong table where the kids liked to play. In the back of the basement was Uncle Don’s work area. He was a hunter and fisherman in his spare time. Hanging in the area were hundreds of muskrats turned inside out and their skins stretched out for drying. It was gross. Uncle Don was working on skinning his latest catch and there was blood and guts everywhere.
Jesse ran in gave Uncle Don a quick kiss and ran away before he could tease her with the innards.
Jesse pulled into the driveway of Aunt Do and Uncle Don’s house. Uncle Don was in the garden. Jesse wandered over to say hello before going into the house to visit with Aunt Do. Of course, Uncle Don had to show off his fabulous garden. He loved being out there with his plants, making them grow and flourish. After a big hug and kiss hello, the tour started. Jesse checked out all the plants, big and little. She would have helped to pull weeds but there were none. That’s how meticulous Uncle Don was about his garden.
Jesse woke up to the smell of pumpkin pie and went into the kitchen to investigate. Her mom had been up for hours, baking pies and was starting on the breads. In a few hours, the family would pack up and drive over the creek to Aunt Do and Uncle Don’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner. Aunt Do and Uncle Don’s kids would be there, along with their families. Aunt Auds and her boys would be there, it would be one crowded place to be. However, it was tradition and it was the only place Jesse wanted to be for Thanksgiving.
When Jesse got there, Uncle Don was in the kitchen carving the turkey; Aunt Do was working on the mashed potatoes. There were big hugs and kisses all around. Jesse headed into the living room where the table was setup with all the leaves and room for 16 people. But there was still a kids table in the dining room.
What a feast was on the table! Every kind of holiday food you’d imagine was there. Then there were the pies in the dining room. On the TV was football, a thanksgiving tradition. It was a great day with all the family together and happy.
Jesse and Uncle Don were sitting next to each other while the family sang happy birthday to them. When the song was over, they hurried to see who could blow out the most candles, which of course ended up with the two laughing at each other. Jesse always teased Uncle Don about being born on her birthday. This went on for many shared birthdays.
Jesse ran to the door. It was Christmas morning, they’d already opened all their presents from Santa, and now it was time for breakfast with Aunt Do and Uncle Don. Jesse’s mom made cinnamon rolls, there were cookies, and it was the one time of year that the coffee percolator was used. Jesse loved the smell of coffee brewing; it was a sign of Christmas.
Breakfast was served, the adults sat around munching on Christmas cookies while the kids played with their new toys.
In times of tragedy, Aunt Do and Uncle Don were there for Jesse’s family and the same when there was tragedy in Aunt Do and Uncle Don’s life. When their daughter was killed, Jesse’s father went to the hospital to identify her. When Jesse’s mom had a car accident, Aunt Do was at the house to help. When Jesse’s mom was dying, Aunt Do was there to help care for her.
Jesse was 7 months pregnant, her mother was on hospice, and it was hard for Jesse to deal with. After one particularly trying visit with her mother, Jesse couldn’t face going home. Instead she drove down the road to Aunt Do’s house. Once inside, Aunt Do wrapped her arms around Jesse and let her cry it all out. No judgment, just love.
Jakes ran into the house ahead of his mom, Jesse. He ran and climbed onto Uncle Don’s lap for hugs and kisses. Jakes called him Uncle Goofy. They hugged and kissed, tickled and giggled. Then it was Jesse’s time for hugs and kisses from Uncle Don. Then Uncle Don took Jakes on a tour of the garden, another generation sharing in the love of gardening. Jesse would stop over on most Saturday mornings after Jakes was born.
So many memories, so much love shared. We’ve said good bye to two wonderful people, who loved each other and their families. They are back together in heaven, Aunt Do being a nurturing caregiver, Uncle Don being a little silly and teasing. I’ll miss them both.
I wrote this from a prompt at Theme Thursday.