This weekend my family said, “goodbye” to my Great Aunt Eileen, known to most of us as Aunt Hike (pronounced High-kee). She was 88 years old at the time of her death (Thursday, February 19th).
Things I loved most about her:
1) She shot from the hip. You never had to guess where you stood with her and as long as you treated her with respect, she appreciated the same from you.
2) She loved animals – all animals, but she especially loved dogs. She’d call you just to find out how the dog was doing and ask you to bring the pooch with you the next time you came to visit. My mom even took a box of dog treats to Aunt Hike’s house so that she could give them to our dogs when they visited. She deliberately took the teeny-tiny ones… knowing full well that Aunt Hike had no self-control when it came to treating the puppies.
3) The Cricket Box. Aunt Hike had a brass cricket box in her house for as long as I can remember. When change fell out of Uncle Joe’s pockets and into the couch cushions, she’d snap it up and put it in the cricket box. When we were little kids, we’d walk through the door and RACE to the cricket box as fast as we could. Elbows were thrown, eyes were poked out, shins were kicked… because if you got to the cricket box first you got to keep whatever was inside of it. Children spilled blood for $0.35.
When my cousin Josh graduated from high school (a year after me), instead of a generous check (which I got) as a gift from Aunt Hike & Uncle Joe, Josh got a generous check INSIDE THE CRICKET BOX! I don’t know how he rated that honor, but I was pissed and I let Aunt Hike know it… for years to come. I told her I was holding a grudge for the rest of my life. I didn’t really mind (as far as you know), but it gave us something to talk and giggle about.
About 5 years ago, Aunt Hike was at a rummage sale and found a cricket box. It wasn’t as big or as sturdy as they one from my childhood, but she couldn’t leave without it. She called me, “you have to stop over, I have something for you… and bring the dog.” When I made it over, she told me to go look in on the shelf in the closet. Low and behold… a cricket box. I laughed, she laughed and when we finally took a breath she said, “aren’t you going to look inside?” I expected to find a few coins for old time’s sake and to my surprise… FIVE DOLLARS! That’s the biggest haul (with the exception of Josh’s graduation check) in cricket box history!!!!
Aunt Hike lost a lot these last years of her life; a child, a husband, her sight, but she never lost her passion for family, friends, and animals and she NEVER lost her sense of humor.
Rest in peace, Aunt Hike. You’ve earned it.