In previous years this is the week I should have been in Ft. Worth, to celebrate Aunt Louise's birthday. She would have been 98 years old on Oct. 19th.
She was born the year before women got the right to vote. In 1941 she went to work for an airplane manufacturer that would later become General Dynamics--designing airplanes (because the men had all gone to war). In 1945 the company decided she was too good an employee to replace with one of those soldiers returning from the war so she continued to design airplanes for them for the next 50 years--and always she was the only woman in that department.
She was a role model for my sisters and myself and such an important part of our growing up time. So many summers were spent with her and Grandma Zelma. She and her mother were surrogate babysitters for three very rebellious, preteen/teenage, girls.
(our trip to Italy in 1998)
Aunt Louise introduced my sisters and myself to museums, ballets, concerts, live theatre, geneology, the nature of Texas, and history of every sort. The absolute highlight of my time with her was when, at 87 years of age, Aunt Louise decided she wanted to find her grandfather's home town of Barga, Italy.
It was a wonderful trip that I will never forget.
I recall how sister Mary and I worried that the trip to Italy would be too strenuous for her--boy, we were wrong. She walked us to exhaustion and never once complained.
While waiting for a table in this popular restaurant in Florence, we discovered how the Italians revere the matriarchs of every Italian family. The owner of this highly acclaimed restaurant came rushing outside and cast a worried glance at Aunt Louise. Seconds later he returned with a chair, a small table and a glass of wine for her--while sister Mary and I continued to stand. After dinner the owner presented Aunt Louise with a bottle of wine to take with her as a souvenir. He gave us the bill.
Her last two years were enhanced by a wonderful caregiver, Suzanne, who made sure that Aunt Louise continued to stay interested in the world around her.
This was my favorite picture of her someone brought to the memorial service. She is holding a baby pig.
This was Aunt Louise's 'crush'. During happy hour when he was performing he would always come to her chair, take her hand and sing directly to her. (much to the chagrin of all the other ladies in the room) He sang her favorite hymns at the memorial service.
(Memorial at Hill Villa)
When Aunt Louise first arrived at Hill Villa, she was invited at mealtime to join a table, shared by two sisters and one brother-in-law. Within the first year one of the sisters died and no one else was asked to join. Three years later the last three died--within two months of each other. It was so sad to see that empty table that four friends had shared. Someone finally removed the table from the dining room. "Too many ghosts." was the reason given.