Uncle in the Attic? I Had an Aunt in the Garden

Aunt JoanOne family member that I feel kind of gets overlooked is my Aunt Joan.  She is the wife of a very, very, very interesting part of our family, my Uncle Lloyd. He is my father’s brother and we spent a lot of time with this family in Madison, WI. He was quite the guy, let’s say eccentric. His wife, Joan, had to be a saint to put up with him.  He was loved unconditionally by most of his family.Aunt JoanAlright, back to my Aunt Joan.  She was an attractive lady, very stylish, and I found her fascinating as she was originally from Australia.  She had an awesome accent which I loved to listen to.  She was kind, thoughtful, creative and a lot of fun to be around…  I used to spend a lot of my summers at their house as she had a daughter near my age that I loved to hang with.  She didn’t believe in kids sitting around with nothing to do.  There was no such thing as sitting indoors watching another TV show.  We did everything from going to movies, having picnics in the fields around their house, which is now the area around Hilldale shopping Center, exploring, and having great adventures.  At that time there was nothing but woods and horse or cattle farms in that area.  This made picnicking and exploring a super good time.  

One of the memorable times with her was when she helped me develop a butterfly collection.  She gave me books, taught me how to take care of and process the butterflies to put in a case that was made by my uncle.  She and I spent many, many hours going through fields and gardens looking for the most different butterfly or moth. She loved to share the thrill of my catching that special one, and then helped me mount my finds.    

Aunt JoanMy aunt was a lover of flowers and between her and my uncle, they encouraged me and taught me their tricks of this hobby.  On several occasions, she would come to my house and help me plan and clean up my perennial gardens.  One time I could hardly get her out of the garden to go to a bridal shower that was being held for one of my daughters as she was having so much fun playing in my garden.

She had always wanted to go back to Australia to live as that was where her family originated from.    Apparently, this was at the end of World War II and the job market in Australia was said to be awful and so she did not get to see that dream.  

She was one that believed in the natural life.  She did not drive and we would take the bus “uptown” as she called it.  Those were always fun trips as they included a movie and dinner.  She didn’t believe in coloring books.  She believed that kids had a natural talent that should be used instead of “coloring just inside the lines”.   

I really miss her and always remember before she passed away from cancer telling me, “whenever you are in your garden and see a little whirlwind of dirt, you will know that I am there with you”.  I love to feel her presence.  

Who Is Sandy

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