Thursday, January 5, 2017

104 years, a long time to live.

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Today my Great Aunt Helen's heart finally stopped beating after 104 years.  She was my mother's last blood relative older than her. Born 12/12/12, I can't begin to imagine all the changes she saw over her lifetime.

Although younger than her, her husband Bill died several years ago. Their relationship often made me smile. Aunt Helen was the type who would say her mind no matter what. She told you if you looked like you gained weight or were losing hair or anything true that most people don't comment on out of common courtesy. Actually, George liked that about her. No, she pulled no punches and always said her mind--except when it came to her grand children. They walked on water and we always felt any accomplishments we made would never compare to them. We would do nothing but treat Aunt Helen with respect no matter what she said.

I did fault my Mom on carrying the respect a little too far--whenever Aunt Helen commented on something of hers that she liked, a plant or a knick knack or something, somehow my Mom would feel obligated to give it to her. I watched year after year and I finally called my Mom on that once and never got a clear answer but sadly it wasn't out of love but I guess out of respect of elders that she did it. Maybe this is harsh to say now, but I am only expressing something the same way my great aunt would.

Now Uncle Bill was a joker. He loved to fool around and tell funny stories. I never really knew when he said things to Aunt Helen that would yank her chain, if he was doing it on purpose or what. We would sit and not dare laugh out loud until the long car ride home and then we would bust out laughing about what he dared to say to her. I often wondered if she gave him heck after we left or if she just ignored it. They were quite a couple and those memories are the ones I chose to keep.

There is one life lesson that I have yet to implement from Aunt Helen's example and I know it would be a great habit. She did not deprive herself any food at all yet she was a small woman, never once in her life overweight. She cooked what is now considered unhealthy food and indulged in desserts too. She never deprived herself at all.

The secret? She would say, "I'll take just a sliver of a piece." When we would position the knife and ask, "Here?" She would reply, "No, smaller". Again we would ask, "Here", "no smaller", until a piece that was so small, it might constitute two bites--three at most.We always joke, "I'll have an Aunt Helen sliver." I am sure if I went on the Aunt Helen diet, I would be a lot thinner, yet get to enjoy a taste of everything and maybe I would live to 104.

In memory of Helen Corcoran 12/12/12-1/5/17