I have already written about my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. I thought I would share a few quick memories about aunts, uncles, cousins, and a few more distant relatives. Well actually reverse that order because I'm going to start with some distant relatives. I had a Great-Great Aunt Rose that I met at least once at my grandma's house. She taught me how to color in the lines and to color all the same direction for the best looking work. That might be my most memorable art lesson. Somewhere along in my family history I have triplet aunts. 2 of them never married and I have seen old photos of them. They were very pretty. Not sure how no one ever scooped them up. One time I was way out in the country with my grandparents and they pointed out my Great-Great-Great Grandpa Harrison's house. The road wasn't good, so we couldn't go back to it. I remember it being white with a green roof and looking like your average farmhouse. I've always wanted to go back there. I still see my dad's cousins and aunt pretty regularly. I feel very lucky to have them in my life caring about me and my family. They make me remember that family is family no matter how distantly related.
My Great-Great Grandpa lived in Arkansas and was going to the Oklahoma/Texas area to make some money before marrying my Great-Great-Great Grandma. He rode of out of town and told her he would be back in a year. She waited for him. He had gone to teach on an Indian reservation. He came back with money, married her, and took her off to live in Indian territory. They settled in west Texas, which was Indian Territory at the time, got into the oil business, and had 10 kids. 8 of which lived well into their 80's. This man and women who loved each other and children well are an inspiration to me. They made sure their children worked hard, but they also made sure they learned well. This combination of hard work and education ensured their children succeeded in whatever they did, including being a cowboy. (Yep, I have a Great-Great Uncle that was an actual cowboy.) I hope I can raise my child(ren) that well.
One of the children that didn't live into his 80's was Little Ben, the youngest by only a few minutes. (Yes my Ben is named after him.) He died in WWII in a bombing raid over Romania. His squad was to take out an oil refinery in Romania that was supplying the German army with fuel. Ben was a Technical Sergeant, which meant that he had done every other job well enough to be qualified to do them all. This doesn't surprise me considering he came from a hard working, intelligent, oil family. He knew hard work and knew how to get along with people. His plane was 2nd in formation. The first one was shot out of the air and his plane took it's place. His plane was subsequently shot down as well. 3 of the 8 men were able to bail out however 2 of them died due to injuries. 1 of the men survived. Little Ben went down with his plane. This hard working, intelligent, committed, funny man that loved his country and his family is someone I hope my son can grow up to be like.
Now for a few memories about relatives that are a little closer to me. I have two older cousins (one boy, one girl) that always put up with me as kid. I often went to spend a week or so in the summer with my maternal grandmother. My aunt lived right across the street, so I stayed over there about as much as I did Grandma's house. My girl cousin let me stay in her room with her. I loved her room with it's blue and white gingham curtains in front of the window that over looked the alley. I'm pretty sure the room had two doors and a desk against one wall. I always thought it was the coolest room imaginable and she was the coolest high schooler I knew. (When I read Twilight, I totally pictured that room as Bella's.) I remember multiple times running up and down the back staircase, playing with Weebles, the Smurfs, and Wizard of Oz dolls, and one special bowl that I could eat Quisp out of and discover some image at the bottom. It was like a prize at the bottom of the bowl. I inherited some of the stories she wrote in school at some point in time. They were some pretty awesome stories. My favorite was definitely Tammy and Tommy Toothbrush. I remember her brothers room always being dark and having hand weights. I always wanted to try and pick them up. He played the trumpet and must have been pretty good because I remember him playing it a lot. I always thought that was so cool. I remember once when he was playing Trivial Pursuit with his then girlfriend. He had gotten a question about Barbie dolls. I happened to be walking through the kitchen and he asked me. I gave him the answer and I'm pretty sure she called him a cheater. He was and still is a big sports fan. I've always felt honored that he included me in his sports conversations. I hope to include people as quickly and easily as they always have included me.
Their parents have always been very special to me as well. My Uncle G always picks out cards that say sweet things because he wants you to know he cares. He has always had pretty great hair and an easy laugh. My Aunt J is known as the talker in the family. (like the rest of us aren't!) More than a talker, she is a story teller. A lot of the family stories I know today are some that have come from her. Their house has always been a welcoming place where I felt comfortable and wanted. When my dad's back got burned in an accident at work, it was their house where my brother and I stayed. When we stayed with Grandma as kids, we often went to their house and had tons of fun. They often played Pinochle with my parents and I got to go play with all those great toys. To this day, that house seems magical in my memory. They even had a claw foot tub in their bathroom where I got to take my baths. Magic right? I hope I welcome people into my house with as much open hospitality as they always have.
On my dad's side of the family, I have 1 uncle and 2 aunts. I remember my Uncle L. always giving me peanut M&M's as a kid. He also has a special nickname for me that no one else ever has, Skunk. I have no idea where that came from, but it has stuck. He is interested in old cars and took my husband and I on a spin around town between our ceremony and our reception. He has always had dogs, normally multiple dogs and mostly bigger dogs. I'm pretty sure my affinity for bigger dogs has come from him. However, I have yet to fix Abbey pancakes for breakfast or steak for dinner. Uncle L's dogs get spoiled. My Aunt K. has always asked me about how school was going for me. I always got the impression that my finishing school was important to her. I also spent many an hour at her house with her 3 kids, my cousins, who were my age. I also remember fighting her for the black olives at holiday meals. We both love only the black ones. My Aunt C. is the youngest and so she was always around when I would stay with my grandparents. She would fix my hair and do my make up. She even did my make up for my wedding! She came up with some pretty cool games and crafts for my brother, my cousins, and I, like the T-shirts we made one summer. When I became a teen, she treated me as an adult. My freshman year she took me to school. She took me cruising in the morning before school because she knew that was cool thing to do and it would give me cool points. I remember that as a year of AC/DC, Salt n' Pepa, and Alan Jackson. (That may be a soundtrack heard only in Southern Illinois and maybe only in my aunt's car.) I always appreciated her high opinion of me. My definition of cool was totally developed from Aunt C. and my girl cousin, who are only a couple weeks apart in age. From my love for dogs to the importance of schooling and confidence in my maturity, my aunts and uncle have significantly shaped my life as I know it today. I hope impart such things on those young ones within my sphere of influence.
Thank you all for joining me in this series. Next up are some pretty special friends, then my in laws, and finally my story.
What relatives have made an impact on you? How have they left their mark?