The Death of an Important Person

“Every teenager needs an adult friend.”

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

I believe that. I had a good Mom and Dad, but it is impossible for two people to teach a child everything about life. Other influences are needed. Some even teach us what not to do: an abusive uncle, a racist granddad, a mean neighbor.

My Uncle Tom Hipps died yesterday, in his mid-eighties, my mother’s last living brother. His wife, my Aunt Mildred, died a few years ago. They helped raise me. Our family took summer vacations to Alabama to see Mother’s people. When I was seven, and Edmund was nine, Mother and Dad left us with Uncle Tom (age 25?) and Aunt Mildred for two weeks. We rode the bus back from Birmingham to Augusta—by ourselves. It was a different era.

We repeated that pattern for a dozen years, by which time I stayed the entire summer. My first two summer jobs were in Birmingham. I loved, loved, loved Tom and Mildred and their children, Tommy, Von, Vickie, Terri, and Karen.

Tom and Mildred were very different than Mother and Dad, less strict, more fun-loving. They were more lenient. They prepared different food and had different cleaning routines. Of course, I washed dishes in North Augusta and Birmingham.

Aunt Mildred produced a new baby each year and, in turn, I helped raise their children.

In Birmingham, in addition to different authority figures, I had different next-door neighbors, a different preacher, a different Sunday school teacher, and a different boss on my summer job. I needed models in addition to what I was getting in North Augusta. I discovered aunts and uncles I didn’t like and others I loved dearly. It was good for me to have a choice of ways to be human.

I extend my sympathy to my cousins. I am sorry for your loss. You had two wonderful parents. I will miss them more than you know.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “The Death of an Important Person

  1. Anne Walker

    Marion: So very sorry for your loss. Life is the acquisition of memories and it sounds like you made some great memories with your Aunt & Uncle. Take care.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. dboatwright@sc.rr.com

    So sorry for your loss, Marion. For you and all the family. May I live so that even a few can say such nice things about me. They were truly what we still need in our world today.

    My sympathy, Dottie

  3. Brena

    Marion, what a wonderful tribute.
    I am sad with you, but happy for the wonderful, heart-inspiring memories you feel. What exactly did you do in their home that was different? I wanted to be there in Alabama with you!!! I grew up in Missouri and rarely saw my aunts and uncles in Alabama and Georgia, but each visit with them provided insight into a “foreign culture” for me. Even their language, food, and churches were different. I learned a lot every time we took the journey!

    • Thanks, Brena. They were cooler than my parents. Though I was seven when the trips started, they weren’t exactly close to my age, but they weren’t old. Good question. I will think about that some more.

  4. Anonymous

    Marion,
    I am truly sorry for your loss. My mother’s 5 sisters and 1 brother all helped raise me, in addition to my parents, but her youngest sister was, without a doubt, my favorite. We became really close in 1984 after her husband died. Then we started traveling abroad together in 1990. I learned social graces, how to bet at the race track, how to arrange flowers, and met so many more wonderful people because of her. God blessed me by making Aunt Lucy a part of my family!

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