My Auntie Greta has recently passed. It wasn’t sudden and she hadn’t been able to place who I was in her life the last time I had seen her, but still it is tough to know when you have once more lost the ability to reach out and physically touch a loved one.
She was one of my mother’s siblings and it always felt like she was the most like my Mom. Truth is, Greta was older, so it was likely my mom who emulated her more than the other way around, but when you’ve lost one, the other becomes more cherished.
I was recently contemplating what were the lasting memories that I have about her and initially I drew a blank. Instead, it was the emotions I had of her that came up way before any memories began to surface. It was her grace of having gone through life altering difficulties and still coming out of it with love in her heart and an amazing capacity to move on from it. It was her smile and laughter that she always showed. It was her ability to listen and care without judgement. Whenever you got to visit with Auntie Greta, you really felt that she was really there with you and she made you feel like she loved being with you. She loved her family and also claimed others as family who she loved as well.
Then memories bubbled up:
My oldest memories are from when we would go to Granda and Grandpa Hively’s house after church on Sundays and sometimes would stop off at Berger’s Bend (the intersection of road just below Grandma’s where Auntie Greta, Uncle Don and my cousins lived. – they are the Bergers).
Aunt Greta and family were also the ones to share in our vacation times as a family when I was young. Being dairy farmers, there were no breaks from milking, so our vacations were of when we would stay at the family pond in an old chicken coop that was cleaned out and used as a cabin. The Berger’s would bring their tent, and for a few days, we could eat, sleep, swim, fish and play at the pond minus the morning and evening chore times.
My recollection of those times is that the parents would feed us kids the obligatory hamburgers and hotdogs and then put us to bed and then rake out the coals and cook big juicy steaks for the adults. We would sometimes awake to their laughter and chatter and the plume of a big fire – as after the steaks, they would throw on a hollowed log standing it up on the coals and thus creating a spectacle of fire shooting out through the top (something that still happens at the pond to this day)
Like most of the Hively’s, Auntie Greta was creative, artsie and a sewer. She would see a design and the next thing you knew, she was making something and showing everyone how to do it. There was a time when every new bag, purse or blanket seemed to come from her or because of her. She would cut jeans apart and make visor covers or another type of purse for your collection. I still have a few.
When she came for a visit, you could be sure that not only would she take pictures of your time together, but you would see the last several rolls of developed film of her previous trips as well. She definitely helped keep Kodak in business.
She loved antiques and the sales and auctions that would have them. I think she felt that it was just as good to go and observe an auction sometimes as it was to get something. She and Uncle Don would tell stories of who and what they had seen and the escapades of people over-bidding or some other shenanigans that were viewed during a sale.
With Aunt Greta around, I knew I was never going to be the only one in the room still sporting a turtleneck shirt. She may be the only person who had as many as I did in her dresser drawers.
I think we will all take solace that she is now in heaven and once more knows everyone around her and the laughter and hugs are plentiful.
I’ve certainly been blessed with tremendous Aunts and Uncles on both sides of my family and I hope the ones still here know how much I love them too.
I love you Auntie Greta. I am so thankful to have had you be a part of my life.