*Update: Great Aunt Cecil went to be with the Lord in the early morning on May 7, 2014 – just five weeks before her 100th birthday celebration.
“In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus…”
I remember when I found out that Aunt Cecil was actually my Great Great Aunt, and that she was older than anyone else I knew, even my grandparents. It was hard for a kid to comprehend that age.
The Hafners took the day off today to visit her in Findlay, where she’s always lived. We took a special trip because she’s 98 and has been in assisted living for a couple weeks, due to a fall that caused a slight fracture in her spine.
Since she’s been in her nineties for, well, eight years now, this isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if I just saw her for the last time. Not in a morbid way, but you just wonder these things about the oldest people you know sometimes.
Sure she looked a little tinier, a little more wrinkled, and her skin a little more like tissue paper than usual. But if there’s one thing Aunt Cecil has, it’s pluck.
For years and years and years and years and years, she’s lived on her own in the house she grew up in, taking good care of herself. And a dog. The first dog I remember was a mini poodle named Ginger. A couple dogs have come and gone since she passed away, but Aunt Cecil falls in love with all of them. When we’d visit her at her house, usually around Easter or Christmas, there were sometimes cans of Coke that had the design from a decade ago, and there were always Milkbones on the coffee table.
I think it’s amazing and awesome that Aunt Cecil hasn’t had a trace of dementia or memory loss. She met my sister-in-law for the first time today, and remembered her name and when they got married. She saw my brother and remembered that it was his turn to graduate high school. She remembered that me and my other brother went to the same college. She remembered my husband’s name, even though she hasn’t had the chance to meet him. So then I feel guilty because we would have so much to talk about. She didn’t have a crazy and adventurous life, but she’s seen a lot.
I did the math today. 2012 minus 98 is 1914. Aunt Cecil was born in 1914. She’s lived through 25 leap years, and I’m not even 25 years old.
When Aunt Cecil was born, Woodrow Wilson was president, and Ford Motors became the first company to mandate an 8-hour work day, and women weren’t allowed to vote. Electric traffic lights weren’t invented yet. She lived through the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, Prohibition, and both World Wars. She saw movies go from silent films to “talkies,” from black and white to color.
Aunt Cecil was engaged three times, but never got married. Her last fiance died in a car accident a month before their wedding day. I can’t imagine that kind of heartbreak.
Ninety-eight years worth of stories. And most of her family doesn’t know many of them, because we’re at least half-a-lifetime younger than she is. All of us get a card and a five dollar bill on our birthday.
Aunt Cecil, with her short silver hair and her nice fingernails and her goodbye kisses.