I have one aunt, one uncle and one cousin.
Dear people that I haven’t seen enough of over
the years, but the reason my mom and I made the
journey to Colorado last week. The day before we flew, I
went around the house taking photos of things my aunt
has given me over the years…I think the gifts began
in high school or college. I thought she might like to see
them again and I wanted her to know how much they
meant to a young woman who often felt
rather out-of-place in the world in
those days.

My parents were ever-so-modern people. I truly
don’t remember seeing anything that could be called
an antique in our many homes growing up. So,
receiving this book from my Aunt Ann was…

….a revelation…a coming home…and a doorway-to a room
I haven’t left since. A cameo, a needle-point glasses case,
a green woolen cloak with its dark and silky lining.
Later on, a crocheted baby blanket for our first-born
and paintings from her own hand. My aunt was a
window to a world of handmade and the treasured
past. My only window onto that world for
a long time.

I don’t mean to speak of my aunt in the past tense,
tho’ I did find her greatly changed when we arrived
late on Friday night. She has had a rough road of late,
with troubles in body and mind (dementia…again…).
On Saturday, she joined our conversation now and
then with her ever-dry sense of humor…I showed her
the photos of the cameo and the First Old Book and pulled
the glasses case out of my bag to show her that I always
have it with me…I kissed her warm cheek.

Sunday morning we awoke to the rescue squad
calmly and quietly taking her to the hospital, for it
seems she was not really well enough, after all,to
have left it earlier in the week. In the quiet moments
over the next few days, when my uncle was with my aunt
and my mom asleep downstairs…I wandered the
rooms and hallways of the house in Colorado….
old china, old books, old photographs,
my aunt’s handmade quilts and paintings
brightening the shady walls and corners.

Who knows how long it would have been before my love
for old and handmade things was awakened without my
aunt’s gifts? How did she know just what would speak to
a shy young woman’s heart and imagination? Did I thank
her enough at the time?

It is too late to find out the answers.

So I poured my gratitude and regrets into what it wasn’t
too late to do….mending her favorite muumuu while my
mom watched “Singin’ in the Rain”, washing the sheets
from her tousled bed, and then a load of her husband’s
clothes, keeping up with dishes. Not very much…
but still, keeping the conversation of Love
alive…from one to another.