Today I want to tell you a story about a very dear friend of mine. Her name is Florence Witko, we called her “auntie Flo. Even though she wasn’t my aunt, she was an aunt to my children and so we all picked up that nickname for her.
Auntie Flo was my sister-in-law, my husband Gene’s sister. Now my husband and I didn’t always get along but auntie Flo and I did! She was the kind of woman that always had time to sit with you and talk no matter what was going on in her life, she was just that kind of person. You don’t find someone like that very often in a lifetime.
I’m going to take you way back even before Gene and I were married. It was my 18th birthday and there was a surprise party for me at auntie Flo’s house, in the country, all planned by her. I can remember all my friends and all the food and unfortunately yes there was also beer. Don, auntie Flo’s youngest son was there and he was so dang cute and so sneaky. He was the one that made the best of the beer. But it caught up with him the next day, I can remember his color was like pea soup, the poor boy was so sick and it lasted the day with him, I think he learned a very valuable lesson that day.
I’m not just going to take you on a trip with me and aunty Flo but some of the other family members as well. Edna, Eddie and Marion will also be added in on this story because they all played such an integral part in my life. I hope you all enjoy this blast from the past!
Back to Auntie Flo, I have to tell you she was the glue that held the family together, even though she didn’t live with us(well, she and Eddie did for a very short time)but you could count on her no matter what time of day or night, she would be there for you!
As I developed this story in my head I was looking through some boxes looking for a certain picture of her and I that I couldn’t find. It was of us in her second story home in Renesselaer, we were both dressed up so we must have been to church or some other important function J I love that picture and will treasure it as my memory of auntie Flo. I know I have it somewhere as I’ve seen it several times in the past move.
I did find another picture equally as touching; it is a picture of Auntie Flo with her beloved “Rusty”, a little Chihuahua, that was indeed a part of the family. It was a sad day when “Rusty” passed one that I thought Auntie Flo would not recover, but she did. She was a very strong woman; she mourned her loss for awhile but then got right back on the road to life once again.
If you needed something and auntie Flo had it, it was yours, even if it was her last piece of bread or her last quarter, it was yours. She was the most giving woman I have ever met. She was a hard worker. Working in a printing press is not an easy job. Sometimes, if a family member needed her car, she would take a bus to work; seriously she was generous to a fault.
When my son Matt was 5 years old, aunty Flo, Eddie, Matt and I went on a “road trip” however we didn’t drive, we went by train. That was an experience, a fun one. We went to Florida to visit my oldest son Patrick and his girlfriend Christine. Imagine 24 hours on a train, she and Eddie kept me entertained. Anyone who knew Eddie at a younger age knows exactly what I’m talking about. He had auntie Flo wrapped right around his little finger, I say that in a good way, she loved Eddie as we all did and she wanted to provide him with memories, and that she did!
I may jump around a little in the telling of this story so bear with me please. I want to tell you the first time I met Marion. I was surprised that my boyfriend’s(at the time) sister had the same name I did and we both spelled it the same way, unusual. She was very intimidating to me, why you ask? She was very tall and at first she was very quiet and didn’t smile much, but as we got to know each other we formed a bond as well but not the same bond as auntie Flo and I. Auntie Flo and I clicked right away but with Marion it took some time to get in her good graces but once you did you were her forever friend.
Now I will tell you about Edna, Eddie’s mom and one of auntie Flo’s daughters. Edna was one of those people who didn’t let you in right away. She had to observe you from a distance and if she felt safe after awhile she would let you in little by little. Edna and I got along well, she was, like I said distant she was cordial, always made you feel welcome, but stayed a step back if you know what I mean.
Here is when Edna and I became sisters. Back in 1970 I was pregnant for Gene Jr. I was about 7 months along when the doctors found a tumor on my lung. They had no idea what it was so they sent me to Thoracic Surgeons, who told me as soon as this child was born I would need major surgery to find out what kind of tumor this was and to remove it! I was shocked. I had no idea what I was in for. I needed child care and I need a baby sitter for a newborn, as Gene Jr. was 10 days old when I went in the hospital for major surgery. Who stepped up to the plate, you ask? Yes, you guessed it Edna. She didn’t have to be asked, she volunteered. For nearly 3 months she took care of my precious baby boy with love, care and nurturing. She lived close to us and brought him to me every day to see him and let me know that he was doing well, she did a marvelous job. Thank you Edna, I know I must have thanked you before but as I bring all this to memory, what would we have done without you?
I don’t think I mentioned the youngest daughter of Auntie Flo’s Nancy. She was about 6 or 7 I think when I met Flo and bless her heart she was plagued with Asthma, she had many trips to the ER from what I remember with asthma attacks. Even with all this going on, Auntie Flo had time for us.
This story could go on and on but my memory is not what it used to be and I see scattered pieces of life with auntie Flo, her marriages and her fight just to survive at times. But I want to, I have to remember the good times we spent together, the bingo parlors we visited, New Years Eve parties, the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners we shared together, such happy memories with this sweet, sweet lady.
When we got the call that she had passed I was as shocked as everyone was. They told me she was found sitting in her chair, at peace. One day I will see her again, dancing in the presence of Jesus her King, how do I know this you ask because the bible says when you are absent from the body you are in the presence of the Lord. Auntie Flo accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior several years before her passing and that’s how I know.
I hope this little jaunt back in time was enjoyed by all and brought as many pleasant memories to you as it did to me.