Aunt Eleanor


This morning I learned that my Dad’s eldest sister passed away Christmas Eve…5 years to the day that his youngest brother died. Somehow it seems fitting although I don’t think Christmas will ever be the same for our family. It’s a blessing, she was 94 and lived a good long life. She is reunited with her husband, her child and all her siblings that have gone before her. There were originally 7 kids but the second oldest sister died many years ago. This picture was taken at her son’s wedding in 1984. I think it was Dad’s favourite picture…it was certainly Mom’s.
My Aunt loved art and would give that as a wedding present. Mom and Dad had it hung in the living room over the couch. Her husband let her have free reign in what she brought into the house but he didn’t always like it. Her husband was a meat and potatoes man and she told us the story of when she would try out something new on him he would say “that was good but don’t do it again”. My fondest memories are going over to swim (they had an indoor pool) and we would have Mother’s pizza for lunch. At ten years old this was my idea of heaven! The adults would sit in the “den”. I’m not sure you could call it living room as it was a space off the kitchen. I remember her telling us that the reason she ordered in was that she spent years in the kitchen missing out on the conversation and isn’t that the point of having company. That really stayed with me. When I got older I once asked Mom how come her husband was never home when we went. He was always out golfing.
We used to joke that my Aunt was the one who tried to give us culture. She would give us books for Christmas and we would often see her at plays at the Grand. We went to see a play about Frida K and happened to bump into her in the lobby. She asked us how we liked it and Janet being the outspoken person that she is said she didn’t.
My Uncle had his own business which did very well. My Aunt was not one to flaunt her wealth but she did have a membership at an exclusive club in the city. It was where we would go for our yearly sibling dinner. When we were young she would have what they referred to as “adult only” dinners. You know when you are young and think you are missing out…well I learned we weren’t! It was like every family there was a little bit of sibling rivalry at times but they would do anything for each other.
Whenever we had her over for dinner we usually had ham and scalloped potatoes because it’s easy. She loved it because you can’t make scalloped potatoes for one. We often had turnip puff too and there was no hiding that was what we were having as she could smell it as soon as she came in the door. We often had the siblings over for Dad’s birthday January 5 and she would bring a box of Laura Secord chocolates.
Her husband died of cancer so it was hard for her to see her brother deal with the same disease. We had a private internment for my Dad and she was so touched that each sibling got one rose to put on the grave. After Dad died she told us when we went to her house for lunch that we were courageous. Dad’s siblings were not one to give out compliments lightly so this was HUGE. Dad’s family were taught to keep a stiff upper lip when they went through tough times and my Aunt never talked about her husband or her son. When their youngest brother died I could see the pain in her eyes but she wouldn’t let anyone see. What a reunion they must all be having in heaven. As much as it makes me sad that I lost a kind, generous Aunt I can smile at the rich life she led.

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