My family has a marina business just off of the Detroit River. Every year growing up, at the end of the boating season on the second Sunday of September, my grandpa would throw a large party with a live band (or in later years a DJ) with food and refreshments for all. The boaters loved this celebration, but I think the grandkids liked it even more. To me it ended up being more of a family reunion, with distant aunts and cousins gathering together sometimes from far away places like California and New York. I remember my Great-aunt June coming to Michigan for visits at some of these family gatherings. She wore her hair longer than my grandma, and the other two of my grandmother’s sisters that I knew. She had a warm endearing persona with a very gentle way and a great laugh.
My grandmother had 5 siblings. Her sister Kathleen and brother Bud died before I ever had a chance to meet them. But I feel very blessed to have known the four sisters I did. Donna (my grandmother), Esta, June and Shirley (as shown below) had amazing wit. They could find the humor in anything and often did. I loved watching them together. June and Esta lived far away, so when they came to to town it always seemed special. The love and fondness was always transparent, like no time had passed and they had never been out of each other’s company.
Aunt June was an extremely talented artist. My father told me about baskets she would weave out of porcupine needles. He shared a time with me when Aunt June made his family’s Christmas tree look like a dream from tinsel, a surprise when they woke up like something out of a holiday story book. And I am fortunate to have one of her many paintings hanging in my home, where it has for many years like when my grandparents lived here.
My dad told me that he always remembers how nice she was, how he never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. But Aunt June wasn’t just kind to people, she was considerate of animals too. I was told a story about how once when she was outside with a relative of mine that a bee stopped on the pavement in front of them. Her response was to the effect of “He ran out of gas.” Then she placed a piece of candy next the bee, of which it partook and flew away. I don’t think I know hardly anyone that mindful. And it encourages me to try and be a more thoughtful person too.
She leaves behind her many loving nieces and nephews, her sisters Shirley and Esta, son-in-law Ron and daughter Nancy. Aunt June you are well loved and I am glad to say one day we will see you again.