It’s Groundhog’s Day in the USA and I think we may have six more weeks of winter if that Phil-guy saw his shadow, or not. Today is also my favorite aunt’s birthday! As a kid, Feb 2 was an easy day to remember. Unfortunately, I never had grandparents, so Aunt Mary enjoyed the status of being a “replacement” grandparent to me and my sisters with the added status of being the “favorite aunt.” My parents were the babies of their families, and got married a little later than life than their peers, so by the time they started their family all their parents had passed away years earlier. Older cousins of mine have many memories of my grandparents on both sides of the family, but old family photos of who they were cannot replace a pair of loving arms wrapped around a small child.
Thankfully, my Aunt Mary became that special person in my life. I spent a lot of time at her home, and she taught me the basics of cooking, and more preferably, baking. She and her sister, my Aunt Lottie, could have opened up a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, with their delicious delicacies. The Polish community would have patronized it and lines would have wrapped around a city block to get in, but that thought never entered their minds. For them, it was all about feeding their families and their nieces and nephews and their grandchildren—notice how I put nieces first?—to scrumptious Polish cuisine.
My first trip to Poland was with my Aunt Mary in 1977. We stayed with our family (home built in 1929) in Ostrów Mazowiecka (about 1.5 hour drive (East) of Warsaw—near the Russian border). The matriarch in Ostrów, Mira, was my aunt’s first cousin and it was the first time they had met. We had a ball touring and enjoying everything we could in Poland for six weeks! I also ran in the Polish Olympic Track Meet in Krakow as a 15 year old where my aunt was my chaperone.
I’ll write more about the track meet in a later post, but today it’s all about remembering my wonderful, and very favorite aunt, who loved me and catered to me whenever I could visit her (staying the weekend with her was the best!)
She would have been 107 today (I’ll do the math - she was born in 1914). Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary!
My husband, Bill, and Aunt Mary on our wedding day June 13, 1987. Sadly, Bill didn’t have grandparents either, or any aunts and uncles that he knew well, so Aunt Mary became his favorite aunt too! Their love for each other was mutual, and once married, we would both spend a day with her in her kitchen and “let her” cook the most delicious meals for us. Those special days will never be forgotten!