29 September 2010

Don't Forget "Her" Story

My Aunt Ellie could whistle just like a bird. Her wide smile greeted us whenever we saw her. I could never tell if she was teasing or being serious until those last years of her life when I chose to believe every word she spoke to me. Because they were always the same words.

I didn't know if she still knew me or not. The famous bird whistle had been silenced and the medications had taken their toll on her memory. So those last few times I saw Aunt Ellie, I was careful to tell her who I was before giving her my hug. "Hi Aunt Ellie, it's Joy." But I think she did know me. At least I hope she did. Her ready reply was always, "Joy (sounding so delighted to see me), I love you." Well, I love her too.

Just last weekend, I said goodbye to this aunt, the dear woman who married my dad's brother and became a vital part of the family for dozens of years. The family buried her on Friday. I've thought a lot about her loving nature, about her many talents, about her large family and about the way she extended herself to her nieces, nephews, other relatives and Church friends.

My Aunt Ellie
Many times when we write family history, our interest lies in the men. Their jobs, their adventures, their exploits may seem more exciting and certainly easier to discover and verify. But let's not forget our "herstory." The history of women who may "just" keep the home fires burning. The women who smiled, who loved and had talents like home canning, sewing, baking bread and maybe even whistling like a bird. Their contributions may be the most important contributions of all.

1 comment:

  1. Write on, Joy. Thanks for sharing some of your memories of Aunt Ellie.

    Love, Winona