She is over 80 years of age and still gets around. Her side of the family has not treated her the best over the years. My side of the family has done what it can. She stayed with my parents for weeks on end after she broke her leg. My parents took her to doctor appointments. They ran errands, went to the bank, and wrote out her checks to pay bills.
It got to the point that I would drive to Loveland (CO) three or four times a week to help my parents get my Aunt and her wheelchair upstairs then out the door and off the porch, so they could get her into the car to take her to her doctor. I didn't mind. It's family. I know that it was rough for her, after all these years, having to depend on others to help her, after years of taking care of herself.
When my sister and I were every young my aunt and uncle lived on the ranch. All seemed right with the world. We had horses to ride, cows to chase, and cousins to bully rag with. It was new and different for me and my sister. For our three cousins, it wasn't as much fun. They would go horseback riding with us, of course, but seemed to get bored pretty quickly.
They had tons of comic books. My sister and I would end up taking stacks of them home with us, and our cousins always seemed to have newer comics the next time we'd come to visit. The hired help also keep a eye on my sister and me as we went around the ranch. There were a lot of things that you can get hurt on at the ranch. They would always hold their breath when my sister and I would jump out the hayloft door to land in a big pile of hay next to the barn.
If our cousins did it, we wanted to do it also. My cousins once talked me into trying to ride one of the bull calves that was penned up. This is way before mutton busting. I made it about two thirds of the way across the pen on that little bull. He slipped one way, and I the other. He was okay. Me? I landed, I swear, in the biggest fresh cow-pie on the place. They laughed, I cried, then I laughed. And then my aunt showed up.The boys got a chewing out. I got a bath, and the hired help chuckled. I was called "cow-pie" for several summers after that.
There is so much that is done on a ranch. Besides all of the cows, our aunt had chickens and some baby lambs. She would feed these little lambs from these big bottles with nipples on the ends. My sister and I helped her every morning to feed them lambs. From there, we would feed the chickens she had. Then she would make us wash our hands and she would start breakfast.
It seemed that there was always way to much food for all of us. But then some of the hired hands would come in to eat also. There was eggs, bacon, juice, milk, coffee, hash browns, pancakes, biscuits, gravy, and fruit. The woman could cook! We all ate 'til we thought we would burst. When we finished, she told us to wash up again, and she would clean up the kitchen.
After she finished the kitchen, she would take us out to a shed by the chickens and lambs and produce some fishing poles. She would then load us up, me and my sister, in one of the old Willies Jeeps and drive us out to some beaver ponds not to far from the house. Boy, were we surprised when we saw her bait her own hook, and then bait ours for us. We would catch brook trout and put them in a cooler. After we had caught it seemed like a hundred fish, she would load us back up for the trip back to the house. She had lunch to get ready.
Lunch for everybody was, of course, brook trout. She would brag and blow about how my sister and I had caught the biggest part of the fish. She would take us on walks, and we would pick up all kinds of neat rocks, arrow heads, fossils, and even some real small bones from lizards and frogs. We learned lots of things from her over the years. It was so hard for us to go home every time we stayed on the ranch. But, there was always next summer.
Now, after all these years, she does not get around like she used to. The lease to the ranch was given up by my uncle years ago. She has since lost her two oldest boys. She is living in a "home for old ladies," as she calls it.
But she remembers my sister and I coming to the ranch. She still remembers and talks about all of the things we did. My sister and I remember right along with her. She has earned every gray hair, wrinkle, and scar. She would like to go back to living on a small ranch or cabin she could call her own.
She still has that sparkle in her eyes when she talks about those times, and we share a recipe or two, along with our stories of back then.
I remember, with a bit of a tear or two, in my eyes. And we both just look at each other and grin.