If you’re a senior golfer you might remember my Uncle Labron Harris, but unless you’re a longtime reader of these columns you’ll probably not have met his wife. Aunt Susie was 106 years old when she died last fall in Sun City, Ariz. Her handwritten letters became valued keepsakes throughout the last 10 years of her life and I miss them. Infinitely more, I miss knowing she still peoples my world.
I see her now at the bridge table winning game after game, and in the sewing room where she and Mother create works of art. I feel jet black beads slither through my fingers, and the musky scent of her perfume tickles my nose. What a lady she was! From her I learned it wasn’t polite to drink the dregs of my cereal milk from the bowl. “You’ll set a bad example for your cousins,” she said with an apologetic smile. I think of those words today every time I tip up my bowl. I’ll bet my cousins do too.
One of my finest holiday memories is coming home from school to find pans of hot-cross buns cooling on the counter and Mom and Aunt Susie stewing about in the kitchen, setting up a flurry of spices and clouds of flour, cooking up memories.
Those two feisty little precision instruments probably had no idea they were creating moments to last a lifetime. You have women like that in your family too. Maybe you’re one of them — a generous soul who makes what’s special seem effortless until the day you stand at your own kitchen counter trying to keep memories alive for the next generation.
The flowers that make up my memorial bouquet are as varied as the six sisters who influenced my life: Aunt Anna, the austere lily; Aunt Tena, the sturdy tulip; Aunt Susie, the delicate Queen Anne’s lace; my mother Margaret, the spray of rose buds that binds my bouquet together; Aunt Elizabeth, the brash gladiola, and Aunt Mary, the unassuming daisy. They’re all gone now but each left a bit of herself in my heart.
All of them gave me choices, but Mom tried hardest to show me which ones to make. From Aunt Anna I learned work ethics and family allegiance. Aunt Tena showed me how to prevail against uncomfortable odds; Aunt Elizabeth taught me to never give up, and Aunt Mary taught me the satisfaction in giving to others.
Ah, but Aunt Susie was special. She showed me the winning ways of a bright smile and a kind word and taught me that you can sometimes be happier not knowing the bottom line. I suspect that’s why she lived so cheerfully, so wisely and so long.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.