Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Hostas

My Aunt Reta was 2 years older than my Mom, and they were very close.

When Reta graduated from high school, she waited for Mary to graduate too, and they went to beauty school together, lived together.

They got married in the same year, and shared a wedding dress. 
Reta wore it first in March, then my Mom in June. 

Then they both had baby boys together.

Fourteen years later, in their mid thirties, they both bad baby girls together. 
Growing up playing with my cousin Stephanie, exactly my age, it never occurred to me how unusual it was that they could pull that off, but they did.

They had hundreds of long phone conversations.

We took trips together, spending summer time at each other's houses.

My Mom regarded Reta as her sister, and her best friend, her whole life.

I have vivid, fond memories of  them together in the summer, bare feet up on the back deck, ice cold wine coolers in hand, laughing out loud.

When Reta got cancer, my Mom got cancer too.

Reta passed away just after her 67th birthday, in January.  Mom was devastated.  And then she passed away just before her 65th birthday, just five months behind her sister.  Reta never knew my Mom had cancer.  She couldn't bear to tell her.  The last time they saw each other, I was there.  We knew Reta didn't have long, but it was unbelievable, because she just seemed unsinkable.
As Reta hugged my Mom goodbye, she said, "I'll be waiting for ya!".  My Dad was able to tell that story several times last week.

The first summer of Reta's treatments, she gave my Mom some hostas and a few other flowers from her garden, things my Mom didn't already have (they both loved to garden).  I actually photographed some of these hostas without knowing it while I was at Reta's last summer- you can see them here

About a month ago, Mom walked through her garden with Jim, giving us some of those hostas for our own house.

Now I walk out my front door and see these hostas that Reta gave my Mom and my Mom gave to us, and, it's bittersweet.  But they are beautiful, and they'll stick around year after year, and I'm grateful.

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