In all of my sadness of losing my Aunt Lottie, there is a story to tell. Most people don't even know their great aunts, let alone have the privilege to not only know them, but love them.
The story starts when I was a young girl. My grandfather who died about a year and a half ago and 3 of his brothers and their wives always vacationed up in Canada about an hour and a half northwest of Kingston. This is seriously God's country here and my mother always had her cousins to play with while the 3 couples rented camps during the summer. My mother is still close with some of those cousins. The year I was born these 3 brothers and their wives bought 3 plots of land on lake Kashawakamak and built 3 camps next to each other. My Aunt Deloris (now deceased) and Uncle Ronnie, Aunt Lottie and Uncle Bob and my grandparents all had their land and built their camps each one helping the other. This helping each other continued until about 5 years ago when they began to get frail. Every summer for as long as I can remember, my Grandparents would take my sister, me and my cousin up to camp and my aunts and uncles would bring their grandchildren up to camp too. So, I always knew my second cousins well and would play with them, swimming, fishing and best of all, working on a play that we would put on near the end of the week. We'd always charge admission and our grandparents would always pay and Aunt Lottie would always bake up a storm. She would make the most wonderful eclairs and pastries and we'd sell them too. So we'd goof around, do our play and just have a marvelous time. I have a picture that I treasure of all of us grandkids in my Aunt Lottie/Uncle Bob's camp with bright smiling faces and tanned faces and arms. Aunt Lottie was also known as the candy lady. She always had stacks of candy and we'd go to her camp to fill our bags the first day and go back for refills as needed. This was true for my children as well, as they knew their Aunt Lottie well too.
Later on in years as I grew and began a family of my own, I got to know Aunt Lottie well. We'd talk about things and when I met Cheryl, she never hesitated to tell me how wonderful she thought she was. She was really the only one of that generation to accept openly that I was gay and we had a lot of talks about that. After we were grown and gone, my grandparents, Aunts and Uncles retired and everynight would rotate camps and play Uno, women against the Men and we'd always hear, who was winning, who had what best strategy, etc. This is as close knit as a family gets.
My grandmother and Aunt Lottie worked together for a time, serving lunches in the Syracuse district and the stories they can tell. My grandmother is still living and I will continue to cherish every moment with her. I can't imgine the pain that my mother's cousin's are going through, not to mention my second cousins. BTW - we never thought of each other as second cousins, ect. We always just called each other cousins and my great aunts/uncles were always just called Aunt/Uncle.
When my Aunt Deloris died about 3 years ago, my Aunt Lottie became depressed. When my grandfather died, she talked about wanting to die herself. Then her sister's husband died and then her sister. It became unbearable for her to process this grief. She was in pain from Lupis and had a hard time walking although she still got around pretty well. She had the most beautiful white hair and I will miss her walking over from her camp to ours and coming in to say hi. I will miss sitting with her and talking with her. I kept meaning to go out to her house and sit and talk with her and never made it.
So, I want to tell herhusband, Uncle Bob, her children, Charlotte and Bobby, her grandchildren, Connie, Robbie, Shelly, Jaime, and Sally Jo that I know your pain having just lost another leaf of our tree. But your mother/grandmother was one of a kind. She loved everyone and while she had her opinions, she loved you all so much. She loved us all so much. Aunt Lottie has gone on to a better place, this I know for sure, but I just can't help thinking, "They are falling, all around us, They are falling, all around us, they are falling, all around us, the strongest leaves of our tree." (Holly Near)
Yes, our tree will go on. It continues to this day. But watching those leaves rise up and leave is the hardest journey for me on this earth today.