Sunday, March 16, 2014

Flowers, Fried Chicken, and Family

March 15th was my Aunt Billie's birthday. Everyone called her Mildred, but to me, she was Aunt Billie. I'm not sure how that name difference came about, but my mom always called her Billie as well.  I think she would have been 85.

Today on Facebook, someone asked me how Aunt Bille influenced my life. I didn't think Facebook could do it justice, so I'm dusting off the blog for a post. 

This picture is of my mother (far right), her sisters from left to right, Aunt Mildred, Aunt Tena, Aunt Luella, and my youngest Uncle, Sherley. Not pictured are my other Uncles - Bob, Lawrence, and Ed. They are all gone now, except for my mom.  We miss them all. 

Some of my earliest memories of Aunt Billie are of her gardens. She had the most fabulous garden year after year. Lilies and poppies, wildflowers of every kind, hostas and ferns, and tons of hens and chicks. Her home in Fairborn had a detached garage that had a trellis that went over the top of the doors and sides. She planted purple Morning Glories that bloomed until noon. Then sometime around six in the evening big, white Moon Flowers would blossom. Her trees and flowers made that tiny house and yard seem like a magical place. I loved that little yard. 

I'm a gardener too, although my gardens aren't nearly as nice as hers were. Mine start out nice at the beginning of the summer, but once August arrives and I have to think about the upcoming school year, everything goes to seed and gets weedy. I sometimes feel sorry for my neighbors. 

Aunt Billie could cook! She loved to cook, and she would stop whatever she was doing if someone was hungry. All my three-year old little brother had to do was say "sgetti peas," and Aunt Billie had the pasta in the pan. Fried chicken was her company dish. She would make it when we came over to visit, and she made it when we had our large family reunions. Later in her life, I would come to visit her at her home in Kentucky.  She still made me fried chicken. She was quite ill with diabetes by then. She suffered dreadful sores on her feet that wouldn't heal, and she had seven heart attacks. I am also diabetic, and I will not suffer like she did. I will find the will power to take care of myself. The other alternative is insane. 

Aunt Billie loved her people. With abandon. Without question. With open arms, and cupboards, and lemonades and lawn chairs. She was bossy and boisterous and big-hearted, and I loved all of those things about her. Her family was the most important part of her life. She loved her children and grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, her brothers and sisters. I'm sure that wherever she is, if she can, she's celebrating her birthday with flowers, fried chicken and family. Happy Birthday, Aunt Billie. 


Kathy Cannon Wiechman said...

You make me love her, too. Beautiful tribute, Nora

Nora MacFarlane said...

Thank you, Kathy. She was a dear lady!

Allison Bruning said...

What beautiful memories of your family. I love your garden pictures. I'm working on my PhD in Education specializing in gifted education. I can understand how hectic it can be during the school.