Let’s take care of yesterday – Farnham (FAR-num) n. – The feeling that you get at about four o’clock in the afternoon when you haven’t got enough done. The truth is that is me almost every day lately. At 4 pm all I want to do is sleep. I have resisted most days and just keep taking my vitamins and supplements and hoping my thyroid will find some stability one of these days and the exhaustion will go away. So let’s move on to the start of this story.
Getting on in age Aunty Betsy would talk for hours with me about her childhood and her life as a young adult. She prepared butter tarts that melted in my mouth. Even today I can shut my eyes and taste them. Some times she added some raisins and other times walnuts but the plain were my favorite. We drink tea out of a lovely set from England that her mother brought along when they emigrated over 100 years ago. The lily of the valley pattern on them reminded me of spring and that delicious fragrance.
Aunty Betsy appeared to have been a lively little girl and always fell off roofs she was not suppose to be climbing or falling in creeks and getting soaked on her way home from school. She attended a one room country school house and walked through the fields to get there most of the year. Sometimes in the winter it was impossible because of the deep snow and they either just did lessons at home or their dad put the cutters on the wagon and took them by the road if he could get through.
I sat listening to her wondering if I should be writing all this down because who would believe it. I was 17 and could not imagine life like that. I always took a bus to a very large school even out here in the country. And of course the plows came through several times during any storm so we could always get out as long as we cleared our drive. But listen I did and the more she talked over the years the better I could picture early life in the country.
As I got a little older she also shared with me stories of the loves that she still treasured. She was married for 45 years to uncle Henry but that did not matter. There had been others that she still carried around in her heart. Again it shocked me but I figured that since I had dated a bit by then, maybe the more serious fellows would also be implanted in me for life. I wished Uncle Henry was still alive so I could ask him if he had any old girlfriends he still thought about. I asked my own Dad, he just shushed me off and walked out of the room. Guess he must have a couple.
As she grew older Aunty Betsy tried to tell me about her current days. I asked her what she had done all day and she always appeared to be busy. But occasionally she would tell me about the problems with getting older. This particular day she told me about a phone call she had made and how she ended up letting out a huge gammersgill for which she was still embarrassed. Turns out it was my mother she had been calling but that was not clearly apparent as the call began. It had scared Aunt Betsy enough to make her hang up and start all over again. I assured her that we all do that from time to time and that I am sure mum thought the gammersgill was due to something that had happened in the room which justified the hang up. My mom is getting older so this seems to be part of my training for those days when they come.
Aunty Betsy died at 92 and I still miss her and our chats to this day. I finally did write down much of what she told me and also taped her telling stories of her youth. In college I learned about oral histories and their place in documenting life. I sometimes still sit in her rocking chair and talk to her in my mind. She was one special lady.