Auntie passed away early this morning at around 1:30 am. She was 89 years old.
Autie has been residing in a nursing home since the mid 1990's. She had been taken to Jewish Hospital on October 7th because she had developed pneumonia. While she was there the doctors determined she had suffered a heart attack. Perhaps the pneumonia was congestive heart failure? Who knows?
Auntie responded to the antibiotics well enough to go back to the "extended care facility", however her son, Eddie was told by the medical staff that her condition was not good and not to expect her to be around much longer. She passed away in her sleep on October 22, 2007 at the age of 89, five months shy of her 90th birthday.
Auntie was a sweet and decent person. She has been my Mom's best friend from their early childhood days until the day she became incapacitated and couldn't remember anything or anyone.
I have wonderful memories of my Mom, Auntie and my grandmother, who I called Dandy, taking Julianne, me and Eddie on short trips shopping in downtown Cincinnati, the Zoo, Coney Island or a swimming pool that used to be in Dayton, Kentucky called Tacoma Pool. We also used to go to Dave and Debs Roller Rink in Dayton Kentucky and then eat a hamburger and fries at the Avenue Cafe on Fairfield in Bellevue. There were some days we would go to Auntie's house or sometimes we would just all be at our house. Mom, Dandy and Auntie would make lunch and I'd play with Eddie. Some days we would go to Dandy's small apartment on Division Street in Bellevue. As my Mom had Monty and Tim they too came along.
My grandmother rented an apartment that was the second floor of Auntie's father-in-law's house. This living arrangement created a lot of confusion for a young boy with a limited view of the world. "If my grandma lives upstairs, then who are these people downstairs that I call grandma & grandpa? Can someone explain this to me? "
So Grandpa & Grandma Kuhr lived downstairs and Dandy lived upstairs. The Kuhr's son George, Auntie's husband, was somewhat older than she. I believe that he was about the same age as my grandmother. I always thought of Uncle George as an excentric guy that just wanted to be left alone to play with his toys. He was the only son of German speaking parents. He grew up speaking German. Uncle George had his own train set in the basement. He built one for Eddie, but Uncle George's was bigger and better. Uncle George played the piano and the tenor banjo, but would not discuss anything about music with a little boy nor would he play music. Uncle George took photographs and developed them too. He spent a lot of money on a Hi-fi set. Hi-fi was the format prior to stereo. Uncle George had amassed a large record collection of jazz and big bands that no one was allowed to listen to except for him. span>
Unfortunately Uncle George enjoyed chain smoking unfiltered Old Gold cigarettes. These were the kind of cigaretted that used to dance on TV. Unfortunately Old Gold's were what lead to his demise back in 1964. I can remember his funeral. I sat next to Eddie. Eddie spent his time playing with one of those puzzles that has numbers you move about until you get them lined up in order. I kept thinking the whole time, if my folks died, I wouldn't know what to do. I would be inconsolable. Eddie wasn't showing much emotion. I suppose puzzles are a great diversion under such circumstances. Perhaps that is the way he was dealing with the moment. After the service, we went to Auntie's house and we watched afternoon Monster movies on TV while the adults talked. Then we drove Uncle Eddie, Auntie and Mom's brother back to Cincinnati to catch the train home.
Although Auntie lived a long life, there were certainly plenty of obstacles. Auntie and Mom's father had passed away suddenly from being attacked by a rabid dog. Their father had tried to break up a dog fight and unfortunately did not pay attention to the bites he had suffered until he was much too ill to do anything about it.
I never got to meet my grandfather. I know that he was a dentist, which was considered good job, although in his day, he occasionally was paid in chickens or produce. These were depression years and money was scarce. He had money trouble lost the family home, went bankrupt and wound up moving his family in with his two older sisters. I am told this lead to family bickering which had it's effect on my mother, her brother, Auntie and my grandmother.
So Auntie married Uncle George. Uncle George did have an excellent job. He worked in the offices of the C&O Railroad, back in the day when rail travel was more popular than air travel. Auntie's brother, Eddie Lacock also worked for the C&O railroad, at their office in Louisville. I'm sure it was George's job that lead to his fascination with Lionel and H&O train sets.
George's father, Grandpa Kuhr was this stoic old German who arrived off the boat with his young wife just before the start of WWI. Neither he nor Grandma Kuhr said much to us kids. I'm sure they were anxious for us to leave Dandy's home, so peace and quiet would be restored.
Grandpa's marriage to Grandma Kuhr was an arranged marriage. It is sort of hard to believe that a mere 3 generations before my birth there were arranged marriage in supposedly a civilized country like Germany, but it's true. Grandpa Kuhr worked hard and saved up enough money to purchase his own taxicab. And he took excellent care of the cab. Grandma Kuhr was obliged to cook, clean, shop and wash for him. If she did not have the dinner on the table promptly at 5 PM every night and if the dinner was not hot, she would be severely scolded. The Kuhrs only spoke German at home. The scolding was in German, which is worse than being scolded in any other language, so I am told.
Now my grandmother's house had a mysterious door at the back of her bathroom. We were told, never under any circumstances were we to open that door. Well you can't tell a kid that. What do you think will happen? Behind the mystery door was this darkened room with an old desk and chair. I recall finding a marvelous pocket knife in one of the drawers. There was also a separate staircase in the back of the room that lead downstairs to Grandpa Kuhr's lower level. Thinking back on things, I imagine now that the room was probably full of Grandpa Kuhr's things.
After Uncle George passed away, Auntie lived off of his Railroad pension and insurance. She worked off and on at a small hospital in Dayton Kentucky called Speers Hospital. This is where I was born. Auntie had a job as a nurse aide. Life was probably difficult for her, but you would not know it. In retrospect, I think Eddie had a pretty good upbringing.
Eddie grew up and got older and met a girl. They got married and his girlfriend got pregnant. Eddie and Linda got married. After all it was the right thing. Their son was born while Linda and Eddie were living with Auntie. Within a year or so the marriage dissolved. Eddy's wife moved in with another man that already had some children and Linda did not want Eddie's kid hanging around, spoiling her new life. Once again,Eddie assumed he was doing the right thing by keeping his boy, but it seems like Auntie wound up really being the caregiver. And in my oppinion Auntie was much too old at the time to raise another child. We all know the rest of the story. Eddie's son is in prison in Eddyville Kentucky (how ironic is that?). By the way, Eddyville is not named after anyone named Eddie, Ed or Edward. It gets it's name because of it's location on the Ohio River. The section of the river that runs past the town has strong currents or eddies that were a navigation hazard during the days of river commerce and travel.
Throughout her life, Auntie suffered from a myriad of physical maladies. When she was very young she was struck by a car and her parents were told not to expect her to live too long. She proved those doctors wrong. Auntie seemed to average one surgery every couple of years. From my reckoning she is perhaps the first bionic woman. When Eddie was young, he spent several summers at my home while Auntie was in the hospital or home recuperating. I have seen Auntie when she was fat, skinny, fat and then skinny again. At her death, she was skinny.
When Uncle George was very sick, he was admitted to Lakeside nursing home and then transferred to a facility in Lexington. My Dad used to have to drive Auntie to Lexington and back. A chore he did not envy.
When Auntie moved to the nursing home my Dad took my Mother there for visits several times a week. Poor Dad worked hard all his life and did not envy the task of driving to that home. I don't know how many times he said to me, "That woman is going to outlive me!", and added a G-D for good measure. Well Dad, you were right.
I have no idea why I always called her Auntie. I supposed Aunt Annette was difficult to say when you are two or three. It caught on and became her nickname. I have no idea why Eddie still calls my Mother "Tee". I guess I one-upped him by naming Auntie before he had a chance at that name.
In recent years, I had ample opportunity to visit her. However she would not have known I was there. She has lost touch for the past five years. The years before that found me working far too much.
So Auntie has passed on from this life. I pray that she is in Heaven. And I hope her spirit is young again and that she is free from her old age, pain and illness. And I do hope she is welcomed by her Mother and Father that she has not seen for over 45 years and fervently hope may she be held in the bosom of Our Heavenly Father.