|Aunt Mary with extended family, 2008|
Last night, my Aunt Mary Barrar died at 5:01 pm Eastern Time. She was my last living aunt. A generation has passed away.
|Aunt Mary with cousin Mary, December 2005|
I have many memories of Aunt Mary. Her husband, Uncle George, was my godfather. Her daughter, Mary, is only 30 days younger than I am. Her son, George, is younger than us.
|Aunt Mary with cousin George, October 2010|
I remember many visits to their home in Norwood, outside Philadelphia. It was always a welcoming place. Often my parents and I would spend an evening after Christmas with them – dinner, with Aunt Mary’s famous delicious rolls. When the grandsons were old enough, we usually played board games for hours. It was always a delight to be there.
I vaguely remember that she and my uncle George (who was my godfather) were foster parents at times, taking in children in need.
After Dad moved to Iowa in 1993 we would often stay with Aunt Mary. After Dad’s death, I would stay there until a few years ago.
I stayed with her the night we buried my father. Aunt Mary, cousin Mary, and I were looking over photos of Dad that I had put together. I ended up mentioning how my Dad would go on Friday nights to turn off the lights of the observant Jewish family that lived across the street.
That story opened up a series of stories. She told how she would go with the cantor to turn the lights off in the synagogue
She then talked about the neighborhood – the Meadows – in west Philadelphia. She remembered the black families who lived there. She talked about them as the holy rollers; the black Pentecostals with their tent meetings were a little startling for her. But she accepted the people.
She mentioned the basketball games in the gym at the Catholic Church, St. Raphael’s, where in the 1920s and 1930s people of various faiths and races would play basketball together.
This was a very different neighborhood – with real mixing of races and religions.
That night Aunt Mary gave me an idea of why my parents were the way they were.
|Aunt Mary with cousin Judy|
The last few years (except for this year) I’ve had a chance to see Aunt Mary when I visited the US, about once a year. I would often arrive around the date of her birthday, which she shared with her first great-granddaughter. It was a delight to share with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
|Celebrating her birthday, October 2009|
I’ll miss her. She was a woman of faith who was so welcoming.
|Celebrating her birthday, October 2010|
May the angels welcome her into Paradise and may she rest gently in the arms of God.
A good woman has gone to her Maker.
|Aunt Mary with extended family, February 2008|