Emery saw the Disney movie, The Incredibles, so now he's quite taken with them. He'll show me the book and say, "Look, Nanny! The Incredibles!" Then he begins listing their names for me. But not one of them is named Aunt Leona. There should be one...because she is incredible, too. My dad's "baby sister" is 95 years old today. To say "95 years young" would be more accurate, but that phrase is overused. But seriously, this lady has not seemed to me to have aged any in the last 20 or 30 years!
Aunt Leona has been part of my life from the very beginning. She was there for my birth, baptism, birthdays, Confirmation, graduation, wedding, the birth of my children and she was even here in Georgia to see Savannah when she was born. Since there was nobody "blogging" while I was growing up, the stories she tells are the only way I have of knowing all the cute, adorable, sweet, charming things I did as a kid. Like making her swell with pride when I told her she made the very BEST hot chocolate. As she beamed and handed me a second cup, I told her, "My mom doesn't give me this because I get hives." !! And she tells of a Christmas when I was just a toddler and all I wanted for dinner was radishes. When she was babysitting my sister and me while my mom was in the hospital having my brother, I had pushed her to her limits one night. As she opened the bedroom door to tell me for the LAST time to be quiet and go to sleep, I must have seen the frustration on her fact because I told her, "You can't spank other people's children".
She lives in Illinois, but has gotten on a plane to come down here and spend Christmas with us the past several years...and she's here with us now. With the exception of bypass surgery 15 years ago (in the hospital recovering on her 80th birthday), which she came through with flying colors; she enjoys excellent health. And I do mean "enjoys". She lives her life to the fullest -- playing golf at least 3 or 4 times a week whenever the weather permits, going out to dinner with friends, having fun buying and scratching off lottery tickets, playing cards whenever she can get up a game, etc. Ever since the surgery she has been faithful in going to "rehab" at the hospital for her exercise program. When she's here she doesn't miss a beat. She gets on our health rider in the bedroom (we usually just use it to hang clothes on) and works out while watching Matlock or Murder She Wrote on the TV.
We're getting ready to have a very low-key birthday dinner here in about a half an hour. She really didn't want any fuss. My cousin wanted to have a big party for her in Illinois with other family members and friends, but Aunt Leona didn't want that. And I asked her today what kind of birthday cake she wanted. She asked if we still had some of those chocolate cupcakes left over from Jodi's birthday. When I said we did, she said, "That's fine. Those are really good." Last year we went to Jodi and Jeremy's because they were having a few folks over for New Year's Eve. As soon as Savannah found out it was her birthday, she took off the silver necklace she was wearing and the silver crown and said that Leona needed to wear them. So we're about to put some really good steaks on the grill, match them with twice-baked potatoes and a salad and maybe crack open a bottle of wine. I am going to all the trouble of thawing a frozen Boston Creme Pie for dessert. She did get a tickle out of getting about half a dozen or more birthday cards today from family and friends. A few of them had lottery tickets in them.
She just told me a little while ago that she doesn't feel any different at 95 than she did at 25...and I believe that's true.
Everybody should have an "Aunt Leona" in their life. Not everybody does. I'm glad I'm one of the lucky ones.