Memories of a favorite aunt and uncle
Even now, when my Aunt Viola and Uncle Art Thum have been gone many years, I treasure memories of them full of warmth, love, and laughter.
Because they had no children of their own and lived so close to my parents’ farm near Scotland, S.D., they became almost like parents to me and my three siblings. Maybe that’s why we received special attention and affection from them.
On hot summer days, when we ran out of things to entertain us at home, we knew Mama would give us permission to go down the road to Aunt Viola and Uncle Art’s farm.
Aunt Viola’s skittish white chickens scattered when we hustled noisily into the yard. Usually we pulled along our rattling red wagon, sometimes filled with freshly-picked dandelions for Aunt Viola.
She’d just laugh, thank us for our wagon full of prairie gold, and invite us in for lemonade and cookies. Her cookies were a special treat for us because they were store-bought, not homemade like the ones we had at our house.
Before we’d go back outside to pester Uncle Art, she’d let us take her glow-in-the-dark ring into her bedroom closet to see it shine so mysteriously in the dark. Many times I’ve wished I had that clunky plastic ring, but it was lost in time, as so many precious childhood items and memories.
Sometimes, as I think about my aunt and uncle, their favorite expressions come ringing through the halls of memory. For example, Viola would always say “whatcha-ma-call-it” when she couldn’t think of the word for an item. If you asked how she was, she’d reply, “Fine as frog’s hair.” And if she were upset about something, she boomed out a “Hey!” that made you hope it wasn’t directed at you.
Our wiry Uncle Art was a big tease. He loved tickling us and calling us “nin-com-poops.” That’s what he called us one day when we came running across the yard to find him.
He had just finished a strong new fence behind his barn and turned some young cows into it. When they heard our commotion, they bolted, tearing down the new fence as they ran off. All my uncle could do was stand there and stare. Finally, he just laughed and said, “You nin-com-poops!”
Memories of people we knew and loved are all we have after they’ve gone. But, sometimes, memories help to fill the emptiness those loved ones leave behind when they go.
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