My beloved Aunt Catherine passed away early this morning (Saturday). She was the last of my aunts, my father’s sister. The above photo was taken of us at her eightieth birthday six years ago. I get a little weepy writing this post, but I loved her dearly.
Aunt Catherine didn’t have children – she wanted them desperately, but that was just God’s will. So she showered her love and attention on all her nieces and nephews – of which there are many. She was born in 1930, the daughter of Jessie Delbert and Nannie Belle Coulter Hill, eighteen years after her oldest brother – my father and another uncle were born five and seven years later! Being in the younger family group, about seven or eight nieces and nephews of around the same age would stay at Aunt Catherine’s several weekends a year. She made wonderful breakfasts for us, and took us to the drive-in theater at night – bringing her popcorn and snacks for us to enjoy. We played outside in her large yard and went across the street to the little country store with a quarter to buy candy. Aunt Catherine lived next to her parents so we got to enjoy being with them, too.
After I was older I remember going to her house for country ham breakfasts when Lebanon celebrated Country Ham Days. There was no competing with Aunt Catherine’s cooking. She made the best zucchini bread – with walnuts and raisins – baked in coffee cans. Her fried chicken was out of this world – accompanied by homemade biscuits. And there was an oatmeal-apple cake I will never forget. And she taught all of us how to make her beet pickles.
You could always go to Aunt Catherine if you had a problem. She was always willing to listen and give advice. Her hugs were tight and comforting and she would shower you with kisses.
An avid Elvis Presley fan, who had all his albums, she and my mom would go to hear local Elvis impersonators and giggle like two young girls – they were in their sixties at this point!
Aunt Catherine will always have a special place in my heart – she called me Philly, her own pet name for me that no one else used. Now she is with her mom and dad and all her brothers and sisters in heaven. I’m sure it was a wonderful homecoming for her.