Snooze or lose.


We just returned from my only aunt’s 90th birthday celebration in Wisconsin.  It was a wonderful time for me, as I hadn’t seen the four boy cousins since they were toddlers.  I had seen my four girl cousins on and off over the past 35 years.

My Aunt Jeanne graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University, majoring in French and Italian, in 1941, and then married her high school sweetheart, whose family owned a cheese factory and were Catholic.  My Swedish Lutheran grandmother had quite an adjustment to make.  Fortunately, the eight children all are quite brilliant, the first one in the first group of post-Sputnik Merit Scholars.  Grandma valued intelligence.

My cousins seem to be mostly engineers and statisticians.  They acquired math from their DNA and their father’s patience.  He put some land he held into a Christmas tree farm to pay for their college tuition, and insisted they all must help.  Over the years the money they made was invested and he showed them how that worked.  I think they all got scholarships.

My aunt got through a hectic family life by remaining calm, cheerful, and having faith.  She went to St. Theresa’s twice a week, and helped with altar flowers.  I can’t imagine what she might have had to confess.

The most amazing part of her story in my mind is that she has lived contentedly within four blocks of where she and my dad grew up, in a house I remember being built right after World War II.  You take her for a ride downtown and she is amazed.

Still, in 1998, when my dad, her only brother, was dying from pancreatic cancer in Georgetown, Texas, she got on a plane to Minneapolis and, stuck in a storm, spent the night in the airport, determined to catch an early morning flight to Austin.  For several hours no one knew where she was.  No one was worried.  She was in God’s hands.

Last weekend my lovely aunt cheerfully greeted her children and grandchildren, and welcomed six members of our branch of her family as well.  When it got a little crazy, she just shut her eyes and pretended to snooze.  I hoped she really was praying — that we all might all last until her 100th birthday in 2020.

4 comments to Snooze or lose.

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