Often in this blog I touch on personal parts of my life, but usually only in passing, and rarely about more than the Intrepid Junior Blogger and her exploits. Last week though a grand lady left this world and while she never lived in Fort McMurray she spent virtually her entire life in the province of Alberta. She was, in my mind, a true Albertan at heart, and she was part of a rich family history in this province.
You see much of my dad’s side of the family resides in this province, and have done so for decades. They have farmed and ranched in the Provost and Bodo area, an area I grew to know well as a child on various family trips to visit aunts and uncles and cousins. My aunt was born in 1931 on a farm close to Cosine, Saskatchewan, a place so small you cannot find it on a map. She grew up there and over her life lived in Edmonton and Veteran, and, finally settled for good in Provost with my uncle Eddy.
I remember my aunt from when I was a child, and for three good reasons. One, she was a tiny petite lady who always had impeccable hair and clothing, her nails done and her black hair teased into a beehive (some would say she was trapped in the 50’s, I suppose, but I think she was instead trapped in glamour). Two, she was my father’s favourite sister, and I loved the way she would tease him and call him “Johnny” – there was always pure affection in her tone, and you could tell they had a very close bond. And finally she was a musician, and when she and the rest of my aunts and uncles came to visit us in the city where I spent my childhood and young adult years our house would ring with banjos and accordions and voices as they spent hours – days, really – drinking rye and playing.
My aunt loved animals, a trait in my father’s family that I too inherited and that has now passed on to the Intrepid Junior Blogger. My aunt also loved life, and I suspect she loved being an Albertan, proud of our pioneering past and tough spirit – just like her, a woman who fought and beat cancer in the 1980’s.
When I received the message that my aunt had passed away it was difficult. Both of my parents are gone now, and seeing their siblings leaving this world is not only hard but reminds me of their loss, and how much I miss them. Knowing that my aunt was so close to my dad made it doubly hard, because I know that she loved him fiercely. I know she suffered when he died, and I know she missed him just as I did. And now, even though I had not seen her in years, I thought about all those times listening to them play “You Are My Sunshine” and laughing, glasses of rye in their hands and that family twinkle in their eye.
I would suspect some would say I am a bit like my aunt. I am not a tall woman, and I have a certain love for fashion and style. I have a bit of a feisty side, and I love animals and family just as my aunt did. She never had children, whether by choice or chance I do not know (and do not care), but she was loved so dearly by the children of so many others that I doubt she ever felt she was lacking in the love of a child. She was the kind of lady you just adored the moment you met her, from the second you saw her smile.
My aunt was named Rose. I do not think she was named after the Wild Rose, the official flower of Alberta, but in my mind my aunt Rose and this province will be forever linked. After my parents passed away I became the family archivist, and I have in my possession decades of family photos. One is a photo of my Uncle Eddy and my Aunt Rose walking down a street in Edmonton, my aunt Rose looking decidedly glamorous in a long coat, with her hair streaming behind her. I will always remember her in that way, I suppose, as a lady with a gentle heart and a strong voice, one with flair and feistiness and a keen sense of fun and joy.
Today in this blog I eulogize my Aunt Rose. She passed away on March 7, 2013, at the age of 81. She was a musician, an animal lover, a fashionista before the word was invented, a wife, a sister, an Albertan, and, in my world, a beloved aunt. She will be missed – but never forgotten. She has gone on to join my parents wherever they may be – and she remains, as always, with them in my memories, and my heart.