Sunday, July 22, 2012
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
I grew up in a time when things were alot different than today. I was raised in a family of six kids, me being the oldest. I have four brothers and one sister. We never was much for celebrating birthdays, just an occasional happy birthday or something of that nature. One reason being there wasn't any money to buy gifts and cards. We were lucky to get an apple or orange for Christmas and birthdays were no exception.But one paticular birthday I'll never forget, I turned six years old that year and something very special happened. Now at that age it's hard to remember details but some things just have a way of sticking with you like it was yesterday.
My uncle and aunt ( mama's brother ) lived up the road a piece within hollering distance of our house. They had six kids as well, the two oldest boys were twins and then two more boys and two girls. The girls being the youngest.With this being back earlier on they only had the four boys at the time.. What time they weren't at our house playing we were at theirs..
Back in those days people had a hard time trying to get to the store. They only went when they had to or got the money to go with. That's why the old store truck ( also known as the Rollin Store ) became such an asset to people living out in the country and they depended on it for alot of things, mostly the basics. It came around once or twice a month. We always had to walk out to the main road to meet it.
This paticular Hot July day my aunt Kathleen and her four boys came walking down the road while I was playing outside. She hollered and told me to run in the house and ask mama if she needed anything from the store truck and to ask her if I could go with her and see if the boys could stay and play with my brothers. Needless to say, I ran in the house as fast as my legs could carry me and asked mama.. When she told me I could go, if I'd had wings I couldn't have flew any faster out that door and down those steps.. While we were walking out the road she said I heard it through a little birdie that today is your birthday. I asked her how in the world did that bird know.. She just grinned and we went on and met the store truck.
I liked walking up on that big truck and looking at all those grocery items on those shelves. It was amazing to me how that big truck could haul that much stuff around. I'd been on it before lots of times with mama and every once in awhile if mama had a few pennies to spare, left over from her groceries she'd get us some penny candy. I never asked for anything, I knew better, mama would get it anyway. This day was no different, I didn't ask aunt Kathleen to buy any candy either but she bought a little bag for me and all of the kids and she let me pick it out. Then she told me she wanted me to help her pick out some cake mix , that she wanted to bake a cake and add her own homemade choclate frosting. Back then cakes were usually made from scratch and the frosting too. She must have saved up a little money and decided she wanted to make it easier on herself. Well needless to say I was excited about baking a cake , then maybe I'd get a piece of it. When we got back home she told me to run in the house and ask mama if we could all come up to her house and play awhile. I ran in and asked mama and she said it'd be alright as long as we got back by suppertime. The others were just as excited as me and I was hoping she'd bake that cake .. When we got there she opened up the little candy bag and gave us all two pieces each. That's all she could give and have enough.Then she told us to all go outside and play she had lots of work to do. We played quite awhile before it dawned on me to run inside and see if it was time to go home, I knew mama wanted us back by suppertime. When I entered the door I smelled cake baking . I asked her if it was time to go home and she said no I'll let you all know. I went back outside and played until she called us all to come in and there in the middle of that table was a big chocolate cake. But I was afraid I was gonna have to go home and wouldn't get to eat any of it. Back then people built their own dining tables and that table was no exception. My uncle could build anything with his hands and it must have been made to seat twelve people at the least. She started putting plates on the table and told us all to find a seat.. Some grabbed the chairs and some sit on the long bench that my uncle made at the back of the table.. Then she said something that floored me. She said, today's Susie's birthday and we're all gonna help her celebrate it.. Let's bow our heads and Thank God for the cake and sing happy birthday to her. I just sit there stunned while they sang. Then she cut the cake and gave us all a piece of it and you could've heard a pin drop.. We were all to busy eating to talk and had always been taugh to keep our mouths shut while a meal was going on. After we all got done and cleaned the dishes up she told us we could go on home it was about suppertime.. Then she said, don't worry about your mama I 've already fixed it up with her..I ran and gave her a big hug and thanked her for my birthday surprise.
Needless to say we weren't ready for any supper when we got home but that was the best cake I've ever eat.. I never did tell mama that for fear of hurting her feelings but now that I look back upon it all it wouldn't have hurt her feelings one bit.
Two years later my aunt died after getting severly burned one morning while trying to start a fire in the cookstove. My uncle left for work earlier that morning and wasn't there when it happened. She poured gasoline instead of kerosene on hot coals and it caught the house on fire. She manage to get all of the kids out. She and her little, two year old girl got burned the worse. The little girl (Sue Ann) died in the hospital two days before her mother did and nobody never did tell her.
This woman died a hero and a legend and people still talk about it today. She surely was an angel sent from God to live on in the many hearts she touched her whole life through.And with my 60th birthday coming up the 28th of this month I think of it even more so. So many years and distance has come between ,me and that six year old girl but I remember it as if it was yesterday.. Rest In Peace Aunt Kathleen, you deserve it and thanks for the gift that keeps on giving.
Susie Swanson, 2012