[This is my entry for week 32 of the 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy prompts created by Amy Coffin of WeTree. This week’s prompt is to write about a memory of a relative.]
Most of my childhood I stayed away from adults. They were to be avoided. I either hung out with the other kids my age or my siblings whenever there were gatherings. Usually, we kids were showed out the door so that the adults could talk. So, while I had contact with my aunts and uncles I wasn’t overly close to them.
In my late teens, my Aunt Julie started to come to our house regularly. She and my Dad would visit for an hour or two while she was waiting to pick up her grandkids from school.
During those visits, I began to get to know her more. She was one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever known in my life. She always had a good word to say and had a smile on her face.
It was during those visits that Aunt Julie got me interested in stamp collecting. Stamps had interested me for some time. I had many pen pals and I marveled at the multicolored postage stamps from different countries on the envelopes that I received. But, I never really got interested in stamp collecting.
My Aunt brought me over a small book on the history of the post office and another booklet on philately. I started collecting stamps because of her. Each visit she would bring over her latest find or I’d have something tucked away to show her. In between, she told me little tidbits about her life.
I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table with hundreds of stamps spread across the table. Both of us would be pouring over them and sharing different insights. There’d be a magnifying glass close by so that we could see the finer details. We’d get excited when we found a really different stamp or one from a country we didn’t have in our collection. I remember my Aunt was really proud of the American Revolution commemorative stamp sheets when she added them to her collection.
We shared this hobby for a few years. Then, my Aunt was diagnosed with her second bout of cancer. This time in her spine. It was not treatable. She became more and more debilitated as the months went by. At one point, she had to wear a special neck braces because they feared movement would affect the tumor and make her paralyzed. We kept up our hobby as best we could, but at after point, it became too difficult for her. She died right around Thanksgiving in 1988.
Whenever I pull out my collection, I can’t help but think of my Aunt. I still miss her warm smile and her sunny perspective of life. When I come across interesting postage stamps, I always think about how much she might have appreciated it. I am glad that she and I had this one special hobby to share together.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com