Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Today has been one of those days which reminds me just where I came from, my hopes for the future, and how precious family truly is, or should be, to all of us.

See, my Aunt Rose is in the hospital in Tennessee. She had emergency surgery Sunday morning and, for a while, has been on a ventilator. All of this was news to me when my cousin called and informed me this morning. My heart hitched into my throat and tears spilled silently down my cheeks as I listened.

Not one to be inactive, immediately I called my oldest sister who lives near Knoxville and informed her. Aunt Rose is in her eighties now. She was the wife of our Uncle Ova. He passed away several years ago, but she remained, and will always remain to be our Aunt Rose, my Aunt Rose.

When I was small and in such a bad way, having a "normal" life was far different from everyone else I knew. Normal for me was being in hospitals and being in pain, and of thirsting after wanting to be as much like everyone else as possible. I wasn't exactly sure what being normal meant, but I knew it when it happened because it was so very different from how the doctors, nurses, student doctors and student nurses treated me.

I was a little girl, but more than anything else I was an unusual case with a number and symptoms they needed to memorize or study. They didn't really see an intelligent little girl with a quick wit and imagination; they saw fevers, swollen joints, pain thresholds, and debated and questioned among themselves the approximate age I would be when I died.

Through all of this, my Mom and Dad made my life as good and "normal" as they possibly could. It was hard on them, of course, especially my Mom. She gave up so much to help me, and my Dad seemed to never once doubt I was going to live and be a good person, and disappointing him was the most horrendous thing I could possibly think of doing (even now).

Outside of my Mom and Dad there were my sisters and bubby who always made me smile and treated me so much like a normal little girl despite the fact they helped spoil me rotten and convince me I could do anything I wanted to do in my life. If they ever doubted I was going to live I was never made aware of it, not even a hint of anything like it. They spoke of the future and encouraged me to read, write and be the person I was and wanted to be. Since they were all married by the time I grew old enough to know them, their husbands are very much like my very own brothers because I can't remember Sister1 being without Big R; or Sister2 being without Nokie. And my Sissy, well, I can remember her before she got married to her Jack, who passed away. I will never be able to forget how heart broken I was after she got married and my Mom and I went home, but Sissy didn't come with us. It was an impossibility to me that Sissy would live somewhere else and I wouldn't get to see her every day and hear her sing and smile and see her dance and be so very full of life. And my Bubby, well, he had a lot of girlfriends throughout his life, but he was always our Bubby. He is married now to a wonderful woman and he still has that infectious laugh and smile that let's me understand now just how he could get any woman he wanted. I am so proud of him now for being married and being a good Christian man.

The other sphere of my family consisted of aunts and uncles. On my Mom's side Uncle Bud was the go-to man for little Christmas trees just for me, and chocolate bars and an entire nickle for a tooth that came out. He was my Mom's oldest brother. He died when I was in Cardinal Hill Hospital here in Lexington for rehabilitation. I was sixteen when he died and wasn't able to go home and say my good-byes because of the horrible snowstorm that was going on in February. I begged anyone I could think of to come and get me so I could be there. I couldn't understand why the roads could possibly be so very bad. I miss him to this day.

Also on my Mom's side was Aunt Ed and Uncle Rob and Aunt Vern and Uncle Befel- they were twin sisters. And Aunt D who was the youngest sister. There is Little Uncle Riley - I never have gotten to know him in all of these long years.

Across the road was Aunt Fay and Uncle Riley and their family, of which you had heard so much about I probably don't need to say anything else about them.

On my Dad's side there was Uncle Ova and Aunt Rose, Uncle Red and Aunt Marie, Aunt Mty and Uncle M.D.; Aunt Ofie. Uncle P I love, but he wasn't around as much as the others. There was also Aunt Mary and Aunt Polly. Daddy's youngest sister, Cartie, is someone I never got to know, but always had the impression I was supposed to impress her. Why? Because Daddy loved her so dearly and he loved me so dearly; he wanted each of us to be impressed with the other. Sadly, I don't know her well enough to be impressed by her or not.

All of them are gone now except for Aunt Rose, Aunt Mty, and Uncle P and Little Uncle Riley.

Aunt Rose and Uncle Ova, Uncle Red and Aunt Marie, and Aunt Mty and Uncle M.D.; Aunt Mary and Uncle Sam, have always been the special ones even though I love all of my aunts and uncles. One reason was because I saw them more and talked with them one-on-one more than the others. There was a few years there where Uncle Red and I exchanged books we'd read on almost a bi-weekly basis, if not weekly. Uncle Ova and Aunt Rose lived just up the road from us and I saw them quite often, as well as their two girls, Carolyn and Fran who were two of my best friends growing up.

Uncles Ova and Red always knew what to say to make everything better. Aunts Rose, Mty, and Marie always made me feel "normal", just a little girl, or a young woman, or their niece in general. Aunt Rose didn't mind telling me "no" or to wash my hands. Aunt Mty always had a story and Aunt Marie, well, just was just always herself no matter where she was, and always ready to give me food or a drink or let me sit at the kitchen table with her and my Mom while they talked about everything under the sun.

Some of my fondest memories are of when all of the Asher clan would get together, or as many as could possibly be there, and the laughter that was always present. The men would usually be outside in the yard smoking their cigarettes or chewing their chaw while the women would start off in the kitchen smoking their cigarettes over coffee or Pepsi or iced tea and then would come a time when everyone collected together, usually on the front porch or in the living room of whatever house we were at. There was also kids running here and there screaming and laughing, sometimes crying over a spilled pop or a skinned knee (but this was rare). It was a mass of sounds, of food, of tastes, of cigarette smoke, of life being lived as well as time being taken out from all that living to slow and visit, catch up with whatever was going on with each other. It seems their generation truly knew how to live and be at peace, if not with what was going on with the rest of the world and community, at least with each other.

Aunt Rose is in her eighties now, but she is just as precious to me as she was when I was growing up. It is a sad fact that I can't get home, nor have the pull to go back to Stinnett like I once did when my Mom and Dad were living, but this doesn't mean, for once minute that the people there are not loved and honored and missed.

The news now is that Aunt Rose is off the ventilator and talking. This makes me smile. I have never known, in all my years, of Aunt Rose ever being quiet for very long. Even though she is expected to be in ICU for a while yet, and in the hospital in general, there is more of a positive feeling about her recovery because she is talking.

How precious are our memories. How precious are the people who help us make them.

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