Aunt Carole (forever Auntie Carole) passed away last month, just short of her 85th birthday, which would have been today.
With my father being an only child and my mother only having two sisters, my extended family has always been small. Aunt Barbara was my mother’s contemporary, with only 22 months between their births.
Mom, unknown friend, and Aunt Barbara, back
Aunt Carole in front
Aunt Carole was the baby of the family, finishing her senior year of high school when I was born. I was two years old and have been told I was to be a flower girl. However, I let out a loud “oooooooh” when my father carried me into the church for the ceremony, so he turned and walked out again.
Apparently I didn’t actually see her marry my uncle!
Mom and Me on the Day of Aunt Carole’s Wedding
My aunt and uncle went on to have an incredible 65 years of married life together.
Aunt Carole was a very smart and talented lady. After high school and before her marriage, she attended the Chamberlain School of Retailing.
Although Aunt Carole was a stay-at-home mom until my cousins were grown, she was active as a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader and taught Sunday School for a number of years. She also volunteered her time with many charities.
She was a fabulous seamstress who sewed many of her own clothes and her children’s clothes. Aunt Carole also taught me how to sew. I was nine or ten and visiting my grandparents over Easter vacation when I made my first skirt with Aunt Carole. I can still see the skirt, which was a burnt orange color. The skirt was simple with folds and tucks at the waist and a fold of fabric where a zipper would have appeared had I been more experienced at sewing. The waist band was fastened with a couple of hooks and eyes.
I was very proud of that skirt, which became the first of many clothing items I sewed through the years into college. My projects were always done in the summer, though, as my mother wasn’t much for domestic hobbies and by the time I was in junior high, Aunt Carole had taken advanced tailoring classes. She sewed some gorgeous coats along with blouses, skirts, dresses and slacks and could always help me with my own projects.
Summer was my favorite season of the year. My grandparents had a camp on Little Sebago Lake in Maine and the whole family gathered there for a couple of weeks each year. Aunt Carole and my uncle were there, too, for the first couple of years after they married.
Aunt Carole and Me, c1955
However, later in the 1950s, my aunt and uncle bought a cottage of their own on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. From the summer I was 12 through my teen years, I was privileged to be invited to spend summers with Aunt Carole, my uncle and my cousins at the lake. Those were very special years in my life.
Aunt Carole loved life at the lake. She enjoyed cooking and spending time with all the kids. There were about a dozen of us all together. Aunt Carole enjoyed evening walks “around the circle,” which was the road that led to all the cottages, swimming and boat rides. In her younger days, she enjoyed water skiing, too.
Aunt Carole on waterskiis
As I mentioned earlier, Aunt Carole was a very smart lady, too. Grandmother said that teachers told her that Carole was part of those students today who would be called gifted.
When my cousins were grown, Aunt Carole went back to school and earned a degree in computer programming. Afterwards, she spent many years in the work force as the lead programmer in the development of the AWAC radar system used by the U.S. military before she retired from the work world.
The last few years of her life were a struggle, as she developed breathing issues. Neither she nor my uncle were ever smokers, so the cause of the respiratory issues is a mystery. I last spoke to Aunt Carole during the summer of 2018 and it became obvious that a phone conversation, however short, required her to expend a huge amount of energy.
Although her health was declining, Aunt Carole lived to see her children grow up, marry and have families, and to see her four grandchildren reach adulthood. Earlier this year, Aunt Carole was especially proud to welcome her great granddaughter into the world.
Aunt Carole, 2013
Aunt Carole was a beautiful lady, inside and out. She will be remembered for her infectious smile and laughter, but also all the love, care and happiness she gave her family and all the wonderful years she was with us.
RIP Aunt Carole
You are loved and missed.