It has often been said that it takes a village to raise a child. This is absolutely true. Between parents, grandparents, other family, and friends, children are nurtured in many ways. I was fortunate to have a large village caring for me. One of the leaders of my village was my aunt, Eva June Wilson. I affectionately called her Auntie June. I treasured her. A few days ago she was called home by Jesus. Yes, I am broken-hearted that we are now separated, but I know with certainty we will see each other again.
Auntie June was my father’s elder sister by two years. She was a delightful, quaint, lovely woman. From my earliest memories of her, I knew that she loved me. I recall being rocked in a rocking chair and swung in a porch swing by her. She liked to be in motion and passed on that love to me. Her husband, my Uncle Sam, was a jokester and teased me relentlessly. Both of these relatives have special places in my heart. Everyone that knew my aunt loved her and sang her praises. She was one of a kind, the best kind.
I learned many things from my aunt. She had a sharp mind and gave sage advice:
a. Family is forever. Always be ready to help them. Never forget their stories.
b. Forgiveness is a requirement and not an option. Do not withhold it.
c. There are certain words a lady doesn’t say, and always remember you are a lady.
d. If you can’t say anything nice, then be quiet.
e. If you don’t know what to do, pray. You can’t go wrong talking to Jesus.
f. Don’t go where you aren’t invited. If they wanted you there, you would know.
g. If it’s not your story, don’t tell it. That is called gossip.
h. Be nice to everyone. You don’t know what they have been through in life.
i. Look for the silver lining in each situation. There is alway something good
j. Make sure your lipstick is fresh. Somebody might take your picture.
k. No one loves you like your family. Always tell them you love them.
There are many other things she taught me. She and Grandmother were skilled in the kitchen. They could cook, freeze, and can until the cows came home. Chicken tasted better fried in lard. The best thing to drink was iced tea. It was okay to use paper plates so you could spend more time with your guests. German tomatoes were fine raised besides the patio, and a yeast roll was better than a cookie anytime. Angel rolls were fluffy and great to have on hand for surprise company. If you had more than enough, share with someone. When you hug someone, close your eyes and savor it. Let your love seep through to them.
Auntie June was fun. She loved playing games and winning. When she lived on her farm she had peacocks. They were beautiful but squealed like a cat or baby. Since she had received a teaching degree, she was the best person to explain anything. Her patience was unmatched. She was a natural born story teller. We had no trouble talking for hours. I could call her and chat for an hour, unless her Kentucky Wildcats were playing ball. Then I needed to wait until after the game. She was frugal but not stingy. Things were cared for and lasted years. I remember the same family room loveseats, living room set, bedroom set, and even lamps at her house. Perhaps being content was her secret.
Auntie June grew up in Southern Indiana, but moved to Kentucky to live with family there after her sophomore year. She skipped her junior year of high school to graduate early with her cousin, Phyllis Ann. After graduation they attended college together. My grandmother was anxious that if she did not have a college buddy, my aunt might not go. She went and graduated with a bachelors degree in business. Like many others in her family, she became a teacher. Learning was important, and she continued to read and educate herself. I valued her opinion.
She was an animal lover. When she lived in Louisville, I remember her dog, Smoky. It was a black cocker spaniel, and I thought it was the most beautiful dog ever. A few years later they moved to the big farm house after her father-in-law died. She had a gorgeous collie. I remember cattle, a calf, a pony, kittens, a dog, and the peacocks at that stately place. I was certain the country estate had seen some civil war action and had many untold stories itself. Like my granddaddy, she was petrified of snakes and passed that right along to me. She had a few heart stopping stories of being trapped inside her house by a big, very big, snake.
My family lived in Clarksville, Indiana. Once when Auntie June had surgery she came to our house to recover. Grandmother stayed as her ever attentive nurse. I remember sneaking to chat with her. She would pat the side of the bed and wink. I quietly asked her if this surgery meant she could have babies or could not because she would be a wonderful mother. She told me that she was praying God had the right baby He would send just for her. Well, He did. In fact, in His generous way, He sent her three, twin sons and a daughter, my cousins: Kevin, Gavin, and Ruth Ann. She was devoted to her children, grandchildren, and greats.
Not only did I love her, but I respected her. Her life was full of trials, but she managed each one with a smile. The glass was always half full for her. She had a life full of hard work, but she also volunteered at church and other places. She was very giving. Others were more of a concern to her than herself. Mother and Auntie June remained close after my daddy died. Many times they chatted and laughed like schoolgirls. They shared precious memories.
I was the first grandchild on Daddy’s side so obviously I was spoiled rotten. Many nights and weekends were spent at my grandparents and later my aunt’s. I was like a sponge wanting to soak up every bit of information I could about the Winburn branch of my family tree. Now that Auntie June is gone I can no longer glean any more information.
Auntie June was a Woman of Faith. She walked her faith as well as talked about it. She loved church and her church family, too. There are many story of God’s blessings in her life. He healed her from breast cancer and various other maladies. He kept her safe during the many (many) storms in her life. She live a long life of 91 years. Auntie June worshipped and praised God for guiding her through them all. She told me that her deepest desire was that all of her family would know Jesus and be saved. She would laugh and say “you know there will be enough room in Heaven.”
During our last conversation she spoke to me a lot about our family: her parents, my parents and sister, her children, grandchildren, and greats. Family was important to her. She spoke a lot about her brother, my father. This was the first time she had talked about Daddy in a very long time. We talked of the goodness of God. She always told me she loved me before we hung up. I assured her of my love, too. The very next day she got sick and after a week went to Glory. People I tell me “I’m sorry you lost your aunt.” Dear friends, I did not lose her. I know exactly where she is. She has gone home and is happier than she has ever been. I miss her more than mere words could express, but I will see her again in Glory. Maybe our rooms will be close together.