Thursday, March 29, 2007

In Memory of my Great Aunt Effie

Last night, I was enjoying my twice monthly browsing through New Renaissance Bookstore, a New Age bookstore in NW Portland. As is usually the case, I can never spend enough time there, and this time I was interrupted by a phone call from my dad, who hardly ever calls me before 11 PM, so I knew it had to be some major news. And it was. I just learned that my Great Aunt Effie had passed over to the heavenly realm about an hour earlier. The news was a shock, as I haven't heard updates in a long time and now she's the third family member to pass in a year and a half's time after my having lived 33 years of life without any of my close family members passing over.
What can I say about my Great Aunt Effie, other than she was funny (I loved her sense of humour) and she sang beautifully, as melodious and relaxing as a bird's song. Whenever I visited her, she would often sing while in the kitchen and it was such a relaxing and enjoyable part of visiting her home. In 1998 when I visited her and my Great Uncle Jim (my grandfather's brother), I had no idea what her politics were and I wanted to know, because for some reason, it mattered to me which side one fell on the whole Bill Clinton -- Ken Starr drama that was in high intensity that year. To my relief, she was a supporter of Bill Clinton and had some sharp comments to make about Ken Starr and his Gestapo like tactics. And let me tell you, it was a relief to hear that, because I respect and honor the elder members of my family. I was relieved to hear that she was on the right side of the debate, that she was a liberal. My grandmother was apolitical, so she never seemed to have an opinion about anything. She was just accepting and nonjudgmental, which was a good thing too. But Great Aunt Effie had opinions and I loved to listen to her express them until she got so frustrated about Ken Starr and the Republicans that she didn't want to talk anymore.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that in my 1998 visit to her house in Bloomington, MN, I finally saw old photos of her and the 1950 wedding. Man, I was impressed how beautiful she looked as a young lady. I can see why my Great Uncle Jim fell for her (and in one old picture of him, he looked a lot like George Clooney, which came as a surprise to family members), although she was always beautiful inside and out with a personality to match. I loved looking at old photos and made some copies for my own family history binder. It's just fascinating to me how much of history they've witnessed and how their generation benefitted from our government's GI Bill, and lived in the same house since the early 1950s, which they bought for less than $10,000. Man, they had a good life, when America was truly great and cared about returning veterans of war and created the middle class in which one can live well on a one parent income and work in one company all the way until retirement.

So, in honour of my Great Aunt Effie and with my condolences to her surviving husband Jim, son David, and daughter Anita, I wish her soul an easy transition to the heavenly realm and a joyful reunion with my grandmother, and her sisters-in-law Hazel and Jewell, and my cousin Michael. I was blessed to know her and will always hold the memory of her beautiful singing close to my heart. I rarely like it when people around me sing to themselves, because their voices aren't good enough for that, but Great Aunt Effie was the exception. She had the singing voice of angels, and now she joins that great angelic choir in the sky. May God bless her for the joy she brought into our lives with her warmth, grace and humour.

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