Until we meet again, Aunt Gertie

“She is spending Christmas in heaven this year,” I thought, when I heard the news of her passing. At the age of 104, my aunt, Gertrude Emma Jean (Graetz) Scholz, went to meet her Lord face to face on Dec. 18.

I had a difficult time to wrap my mind around the fact that she had passed away. She has been such a large part of my life. Sure, we didn’t see each other that often, since we lived hours apart, but the times we did, were meaningful in a way I didn’t realize before. In thinking about it, I acknowledge that most of my childhood pictures were taken by Aunt Gertie. My parent’s 25th anniversary pictures were taken by her, and I treasure them so greatly.

As a child, I anxiously awaited visits from her and Uncle Wally, or for our visits to their home. They were never blessed with children of their own, so they took all the nieces and nephews under their wing. Even, in her current age, we could ask her about a cousin, and she would know how they were because we all kept in touch with her. She was the one we revolved around.

She had some keen observances of parents and children through the years, “They can’t wait until their children can walk and talk, and then they tell them to sit down and shut up,” was one of them of her quips.

She enjoyed traveling and spending time with family. She was known to load up the car with other aunts and uncles and drive up to visit relatives who had moved up north. She and an assortment of them would come stay in our Tigerton area farm, walking the creaky, farmhouse steps, to their bedrooms. That reminded me of when we would go visit down south, and often sleep upstairs in the old farmhouse near Tichigan.

While up visiting us at the farm, we never worried about boredom, rather we would laugh, talk, and play cards, in between making meals and cleaning up. She was the first to get her hands in the dish water.

“I like washing dishes,” she’d explain.

In the later years, she didn’t drive this far anymore, but I enjoyed traveling down there to visit her and the rest of the family. She was the oldest of three ladies in their 80s, or so she would say about herself and her sisters; then they became the three ladies in their 90s; she is the only one to achieve 100 and beyond. My long time readers will recall the columns I wrote about visiting aunts, and lately, my one aunt.

“I don’t know how I got so old,” she used to tell me when she was in her 90s. “Well, one thing, I don’t worry about things.”

At one point, she even had to go through radiation treatment for skin cancer.

When she was 100, the local grade school asked her to come and talk to the kids. At first she was nervous and wanted to say no, but then thought she should go and talk about what has changed in the past 100 years.

“The children were interested,” she said with a gleam in her eyes. “They even asked questions, I’m glad I went.”

When she celebrated her 104th birthday in July, I saw she still had a vibrancy and joy of life. She is the type of person who draws others in, and really listens to them, so family and friends filled her afternoon with joy.

I enjoyed my last visit with her in October, and when we hugged farewell, there was no thought I wouldn’t see her again, it seemed she would always be there. Until we meet again, dear aunt.