Emery, at left, would be in his early 20s. Esther, Ruth, and Clyde complete the photo of four Gutshall siblings growing up.
Some years ago, my youngest sister gave my aged Great-Aunt Esther a book intended for a mother or grandmother to write recollections that could be passed on to others.
Aunt Esther filled out a couple dozen pages, and then said ‘enough.’
I have photos of all of these pages. Aunt Esther has been gone three and half years now, and I thought I might slowly transcribe her writings.
Describe the view from your childhood bedroom.
I shared a rather small bedroom with your grandmother. It was nothing special but it was comfortable and adequate for two girls. A bed, chair, dresser, and a corner clothes closet made from a shelf, rod under it and covered by a curtain.
The view from the window looked out on the farmyard, barn, hen house, smoke house, and a pasture usually full of sheep. There was always something going on, if it was only the old hen in the flower bed!
I’m late in the day, on a day that would have been Aunt Esther’s 105th birthday.
As a reminder of this lovely woman:
.Aunt Esther. 101 years old
I miss her terribly.
So I’m thinking this evening about things that I have collected from family members who have gone on before me.
I am surrounded by objects that belonged to others, and now belong to me. I see these things every day, and touch many of them every day, and they are part of my life now.
That’s one of Aunt Esther’s mirrors on my living room wall.
In no particular order:
Grandma Carter: her formal china. A living room table. My favorite lamp.
Grandma Blocher: her formal silverware. A chenille bedspread. An antique wall mirror. Various pieces of cookware. A great deal of lovely stemware.
Great-grandmother Slade: a double bed.
Aunt Esther: two wall mirrors. Two lamps. A bedroom suite. An antique platform rocker, now reupholstered in my colors. Some paintings. And in a few days, a china cabinet.
My mother: Fireking Jade-ite dishes. An antique dining room table. An antique buffet.
I spent three nights in Lee’s Summit this week. The time at home included four visits to Beth’s home, a visit with Aunt Esther (who is failing at 101 years old), two services at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, and of course time at my father’s house. Christmas Day festivities were at Beth’s home.
I went to sleep on Christmas Eve, as I have for several years now, listening to ‘This Christmastide’ performed by the American Boy Choir, and to Lauridsen’s ‘O magnum mysterium’ in the Brompton Oratory rendition.
In these photos, my blog buds will find Karen and her partner Debbie and Karen’s children Blayne and Kristen, Beth and Robert and their three children Anna, Luke, and Joseph, my father and step-mother, my step-brother Greg, Aunt Esther, and various folks from the Cathedral. And Anna’s boyfriend, Dan. And Samson.
Great-aunt Esther is 101 today. This is incredible.
She walked into her birthday party on Sunday under her own steam, and enjoyed the festivities, so I’m told.
From the party on Sunday, four days shy of 101:
At 7.30 p.m., I am back in Saint Louis after making the return trip from Lee’s Summit today, non-stop, in three hours and 23 minutes. Samson slept the whole way, from the moment I got on I-70 in Independence to the moment I pulled up on Lawn Place.
While I took my D-XLR camera, I didn’t use it. In fact, this whole trip was spent in driving, sleeping, eating, or visiting. I suppose that’s what a whirlwind 23 hours in my hometown should be.
My father is having surgery on Thursday for cancer in his lymph nodes. The cancer is consistent with a merkel cell that was removed from his arm two years ago. He is a man of extraordinary religious faith, and will weather this latest ill health with dignity and aplomb, if also some soreness. Further biopsies will determine what further course of action is necessary.
Meanwhile, my sister Karen is recovering well from surgery on her wrist. I enjoyed laughing with her today! And Beth and Robert and kids are all fine. Anna will be 16 soon; both boys are in elementary school, one at either end of the age range.
Sadly, Aunt Esther has noticeably aged (she is 100, after all) in the last three months. The sparkle is gone from her eyes, and she had a certain look that I’d not seen in her before. I wonder if today’s brief visit will be my last. I asked her to hang on until Christmas, but she hung on until 100, and truth-be-told she deserves a rest.
Here are shots from the last two days:
Samson en route to Lee’s Summit.
Joseph, the kid who cannot sit still.