SoCS: Aunt Dot’s desk

Beside me when I read this prompt was a maple desk. It is part of a bedroom suite that once belonged to B’s Aunt Dot. Actually, Great-Aunt Dot. B only had one aunt, but he had a bunch of great-aunts, several of whom lived close by enough that he saw them often when he was growing up. Because we were high-school sweethearts, I also had the privilege of getting to know them.

Aunt Dot had lived with B’s mom and her parents and grandmother when B’s mom was young. When I met her, she was still living with B’s grandfather, who was by then a widower. She was retired from Sprague Electric and knew one of my aunts who worked there.

Aunt Dot loved to travel. I remember there being many souvenirs in B’s home that she had brought back from trips in the US and Europe.

She was also a force to be recognized with! She was a no-nonsense sort who had her own ways of thinking about and doing things and didn’t really feel compelled to change them – thank you very much! She was good-hearted and generous, though, and a good caretaker. Though she had never had her own family, she was certainly used to family life in a multi-generational household.

When she was in her 70s, she developed liver cancer. She was ill when I was pregnant with my first child. She bought a teddy bear as an early gift for the baby. He had a tam and scarf in tartan and was named Angus. E was born on April 6, a bit earlier than expected. By then, Aunt Dot was in a skilled nursing facility because she was so ill. She passed away on April 29, E’s original due date. I remember thinking at the time that maybe E had arrived early so that Aunt Dot would know that she had a new great-great-niece before she died.

For many years, Angus lived on a shelf in E’s room. When a pregnant E moved home while waiting for her spousal visa to come through, B and I moved into E’s old room upstairs, so that E could be on the first floor near what would be the baby’s room. Given that E’s old room was still outfitted with a twin bed, we needed to have a double bed. We moved Aunt Dot’s maple bedroom suite into E’s old room. It had come to us via B’s mom who had inherited it and was using it until she had passed away. It has a double bed, a tall dresser, and a desk with drawers. I use the desk for storage and as a nightstand.

See, I did eventually stream-of-consciousness myself back to object that started this whole thing…

With E and ABC now in the UK, B and I will eventually reclaim the downstairs master bedroom. We want to do some re-decorating before we move back in, so we had delayed moving in. It’s just as well because it has now been re-purposed as B’s workspace during the coronavirus shutdown. We have the feeling it will be his office for months, so I think it will be a long time before Aunt Dot’s maple bedroom suite becomes available for guests.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is to write about whatever was beside you when you first read the prompt. Please join the fun! Find out how here:

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!

Visits and baptism

On Sunday, July 16, we celebrated ABC’s baptism.

We were blessed to have L’s mom visiting from the UK. I will call her Lola here, which is Tagalog for grandmother. She was here for a week and a half, during which we gave her as much cuddle time with ABC as possible. When all the necessary documents go through and E and ABC join L in the UK, they will be living with Lola and Lolo (grandfather), so the visit was the beginning of what will be years of cuddling and babysitting.

We were also excited to have daughter T home for a long weekend. Besides meeting her niece for the first time, T also became her baptismal sponsor. T’s own godmother served as a witness by proxy for L’s sister, who will be ABC’s British godmother.

Sorry for all the initials…

The baptism took place after Mass with the deacon, himself a grandfather several times over, presiding. ABC wore the same dress that Nana had bought sixty years ago for my older sister’s baptism, which was also worn by me, my younger sister, and both of my daughters. Here is a picture of all those who have worn this little dress.
baptism dress six

Paco was able to come down to church for the baptism, but Nana wasn’t well enough to join us. After the baptism, we convened at Nana and Paco’s apartment for a feast of Filipino food that L and Lola had prepared. Brent and I made pies for dessert. Everything was delicious!

We were very grateful that Lola got to meet Nana and Paco. It felt like they had known each other much longer than a few hours! I love this photo of Nana and Lola.
Nana and Lola

ABC is blessed to have many people praying for her. There was even a physical reminder of the support of E and L’s parish in Honolulu, where they were married and served in music ministry. The blanket Ada is napping on in this photo was made by a choir member there.
ABC in her baptism dress


New poems published!

The fall quarterly of Wilderness House Literary Review (Volume 10 #3) is now available for free online. I have three poems in this edition and this marks my first publication in a literary journal. So exciting!

WHLR includes art, essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews. My poems are accessed through the link for my name, Joanne Corey, in the poetry section, which is charmingly arranged alphabetically by first name instead of last. I hope that people will peruse the issue, but the link here for my name will open the pdf of my poems. The link that begins this post will go to the most current issue of WHLR, but the link to my poems should be permanent.

The three poems are:
“(Not) the aunt I remember” which is based on my aunt who passed away earlier this year
“Fifty-four” which is in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the death of my friend Angie 
“Downy” which is about a woodpecker in our backyard.

I’d love to hear any feedback you have on these poems. Please feel free to comment here, on Facebook, or by email for those who know my address. (Sorry but I don’t want to make my personal email public.)

– JC

A Valentine’s funeral

Valentine’s Day morning found B and I in North Adams MA to attend the funeral of my aunt Helen. We were there not only to pay our own respects but also as representatives of the rest of my family, especially my parents who are not up to extended cold-weather car trips any more.

The funeral was small, mostly nieces and nephews with their spouses. I especially wanted to thank Marcia and Carl, who are related through Helen’s husband Stewart, who died several years ago, as they had been the ones who had visited and run errands for Helen and Stewart through over ten years in the nursing home. My mom and Marcia often spoke by phone, so that my parents could keep up with news of Helen, especially after she couldn’t talk to my dad on the phone herself.

Helen’s longtime Baptist minister led the service, with my cousin Cairn giving the eulogy. I read a Bible passage, 1 Corinthians 13, which was a favorite of both Helen’s and mine. Cairn thoughtfully gave me Helen’s personal Bible, given to her almost eighty years ago in Sunday school, her name embossed in gold on the black leather cover, with dried flowers, ribbons, prayer cards, a church bulletin, bookmarks, and copies of her parents’ obituaries tucked among the pages. There were old photos on display in the funeral home and one of her stenographer’s notebooks, showing her skill at the now-lost art of shorthand.

Most of the remembrances of Helen were from her younger days as the eldest of seven children and later as a devoted spouse, watchful aunt, and super-efficient and respected executive secretary, the time period that I remember.  We lived about twenty miles away and would often visit at their home on the weekends. I remember playing with my sisters in their large backyard and attending holiday parties that Helen loved to host. Helen would often compose little poems for special occasions and liked to have people contribute to celebrations. I remember one Christmas party when we were each to bring something for the tree and my older sister made oil of wintergreen in the school chemistry lab as her offering.

Helen’s last decade-plus was very different, as she developed Alzheimer’s. While some things stayed constant until very nearly the end – her love of coffee, her joy in attending and singing at church services, her fondness for dolls and stuffed animals – others were permanently lost. In many ways, the woman that we all knew has been gone much longer than the days since her death earlier this month.

Born in 1922, Helen was the eldest of seven. My father, who turns 90 in a few weeks, was the third child and first son in the family. Of the four children who lived past the age of 70, my father is the only one not to have succumbed to Alzheimer’s, as their father had. My dad’s only surviving sibling is his youngest brother who is currently living in a nursing home in CT. My dad is the only one left who can recall the old family lore. I’ve been asked with such strong family history how my father has been spared; everyone always said that he took after his mother’s side of the family and perhaps that is what saved him from developing Alzheimer’s.

Despite the cold and snowy New England winter, we were able to bring Helen to the cemetery after the service where she is now resting beside her husband. It wasn’t until we arrived there and saw the headstone that I remembered she will also be resting beside her youngest sibling – and Cairn’s mother – Bev, who we lost decades ago to eclampsia. Bev was born on Helen’s 17th birthday and now the oldest and the youngest are finally reunited.

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