I'm one day late -- but better late than never, I say. It was my mom's birthday yesterday (September 9). The day before was my aunt M's (her older sister) 80th birthday. They were born 8 years and one day apart.
They grew up on a farm just north of Jackson, Minnesota, along with their younger sister and two brothers. My aunt graduated from high school and worked in town for a couple of years, and then moved to Minneapolis when she was 21. My mom moved to Minneapolis when she graduated from high school, inspired at least in part, I think, by my aunt's bravery. My aunt worked for Augsburg Publishing House for awhile; they both worked for General Mills (home of the fictional Betty Crocker).
One of my aunt's claims to fame is that she worked on the classic Betty Crocker Cooky Book. There were those who wanted to spell it "cookie", and my aunt insisted that this was the way they spelled it at her house! I do think the spelling contributed to the charm.
My mom got married when she was 20, and had me when she was 21. At a certain age, I did the math, and asked her, "Was I planned?" She answered, "Let me put it this way. We didn't plan not to."
Both my mom and my aunt are smart women. Neither went to college from high school. That option just wasn't open them at the time. I remember when I was in high school, that my aunt decided to go back to school and get her teaching degree. I rode the bus with her to the University of Minnesota one day when I was looking into colleges. She took me to classes and, most important, I thought, to the college cafeteria. Then, when I was in college, my mom decided to go back and get her business degree.
On Sunday afternoon, we had a birthday party for both of them. Part of it was a surprise. My mom had invited some of my aunt's girlfriends, including one of her good friends she had worked with at General Mills, and one of her roommates from when she first lived in Minneapolis.
At one point, my aunt got up and gave a little speech, thanking her sons (she said she didn't know they were capable of giving a party like this) and my mom. She said, "For a long time we have been sisters.... but we've also been good friends."
I'm so proud to have them both as a mom, as an aunt ... and as my friends, too.