Friday, May 28, 2010

My Aunt Bessie

My father had 3 sisters and one of them lived right next door. Her name was Aunt Bessie. She had 4 children and was widowed when her youngest was 2 years old. I spent a lot of time with her those first few years of life. My father told me that I called her Mama sometimes. All I know is that she was a wonderful influence in my life. I also know that, like me, she did not like having her picture taken so this is one of the two that I have in my possession.

Looking back, I realize that she did not have much money. She, with the help of her oldest son and daughters, ran the dairy farm and eked out a living as best she could. No matter that she lacked money~ she was richly endowed with a big heart and an abundance of love. She was not a kissy-kissy sort of person, nor was she one to say "I love you". However, when you were in her presence you KNEW that you were deeply loved.

Her youngest, Lorraine, was 4 when I was born. I became her "baby" of sorts and she was always willing to play with me. In the picture she is 6 and I am 2. One of the highlights of our summers was when Lady, the family dog, had pups. Somehow, somewhere, way out in the wilds of the country, Lady always managed to find a boyfriend every year and would show up with a smile on her face and babies in her tummy. When the pups were old enough to play with we would take them into the cellar and play house with them and Aunt Bessie would pack up a tea party for us. (You can see the cellar door opening behind us in the picture)

Oh what a wonderful tea party that was. She would cut the crust off her homemade bread and take butter (that she had churned) and color it (the butter) with food coloring. She would then layer the bread together with different colors of butter between the layers and cut them into small "stacks". On another day she would layer in a bit of her homemade preserves and we would dine in "high tea" style.

I loved to tag along with her as she checked the flowers she had blooming around the farm place. She would make me hollyhock dolls and tell me stories about when she was a girl. I used to tell her I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She always told me that I didn't want to grow up to be an old farm woman like her. I assured her that I did. I'm afraid that I didn't turn out much like her at all. I was called away from the farm life and became what she would have called "citified". As I compare our lives I realize that I am a bit like her. I love the children that surround me and this summer I am teaching my granddaughters to make Hollyhock dolls-a pure and simple pleasure that should not be forgotten.

your photo name


Jettie said...
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Jettie said...

I've never heard of Hollyhock dolls, Thank you for the picture. Now what do you use for the head?
LOL about Lady and her smile, along with the puppies. We seldom had puppies on our farm, but there was always kittens.

I laugh at the butter sandwiches, and we were never fat, even though we ate stuff like that all the time. I can just hear our health nazis screaming about our diet as children.

NanaDiana said...

Jettie- The hollyhock dolls are made with one fully opened bloom turned upside down for the skirt. The "head" is a bud that hasn't opened yet. We always used a toothpick to join the two together. Aunt Bessie used to take it one step further and used some tendrils off (I think it was her grapevine) and wrap them around the "neck" for arms. Aren't they cute though?

Natalie said...

What a great idea! This will be fun to make with the girls when they are older.

It's a beautiful post, by the way

Heaven's Walk said...

Hi Diana! Thanks so much for visiting Heaven's Walk and leaving your sweet comment! It's always SO nice to hear from a sister-blogger! :) I grew up spending summers in my grandparent's cottage on Lake Michigan in Port Sheldon. THAT was heaven on earth, I tell ya....Now hubby and I live about 1 hour east of Lake Michigan, but surrounded by many small inland lakes.

My mother used to make me Hollyhock Dolls when she took me to the YMCA for swimming classes! Wow, your story and photos brought me back in time. It was wonderful to hold those memories in your heart, isn't it?

I agree! I think you, Tia and I should definitely sit down with a bottle of wine and exchange life stories! What a ball we'd have! :)

Hugs - and keep up the great blog!

~ laurie@heavenswalk said...

I LOVE the post I am so close to my Aunts and have been all of my life!
Your stories make me long for a much Simpler time.
I am going crazy over the Hollyhock dolls and I can't wait to give one a try!
Have a wonderful day!