Oh those calendar notifications. Sunday would have been the birthday of my Aunt Martha, though she was not technically my aunt. Possibly she grew up in the same part of Baltimore as my parents, Forrest Park High School area (?), she and her husband George were my godparents.
Her passing away in 2010 was a surprise as was the notification some time later that I was mentioned in her will. A tiny story of connection how that blog post drew a comment from a great nephew I did not know.
Will? The only experience I had with inheritance was the Community Chest card in Monopoly. It was her gift that helped launch my 2011 ejection from the working world to drive around the USA and Canada to see what was there.
She was generous like that; birthday gifts were usually savings bonds of a large number. As a career long teacher and author of children’s reading books she advocated often for education. She liked to talk politics, the last time I visited I remember being surprised at the range of people she took in for opinions.
I cannot place the time of that photo of me with her above. Judging my the poofiness of my hair and wearing a wedding ring, I am guessing it was some place in Baltimore we went to lunch during a family visit there in 1994.
The calendar also noted today marked the passing of her husband, George in 1983. I should remember more of both of them, but it feels dim. George was a mentor to my Dad in many ways, likely more than I ever knew. He and my Dad belonged to a Masonic Lodge, and I know George helped Dad a lot the year he was Master or Poohbah or whatever. No one told me what went on at those meetings downtown.
I remember an apartment Martha and George lived in, full of books and a parakeet named Archie. I remember as a kid the one time of year I remember my parents cutting loose with a basement New Year’s eve parties in our basement, with a set design and hair styles right out of a 1970s sitcom. George was known for his whiskey sours, and once year he taught me how to mix them (I never drank them), some fun turning the kid into a bar tender.
That career never took off.
They never had children (and it never occurred to me to ask why); my hunch is in some small way, my sisters and I gave them some of that presence into their lives.
Martha came up to University of Delaware when I got accepted into Phi Beta Kappa (I have never mentioned that in public, I’m a non-practicing member) (but somewhere I have a key thing) (maybe).
That’s some pretty fragmented, disjointed memories. Time does that to us. You never think in the middle of living that you are going to be fuzzy on all the now details in the future. The details don’t matter as much as knowing that people like her devoutly cared about me, my interests, my future. That was always clear. Then and now.
I have this one last photo of my Mom and Martha together, here I am wondering when it was, and notice the date in the corner, 2005.
Thanks, in the all encompassing sense, Aunt Martha and Uncle George.
The post "Me and Aunt Martha" was originally pulled charred and crispy from a smoky charred oven at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2015/09/me-and-aunt-martha/) on September 24, 2015.