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FROM THE VALLEY: A Personal Note


My wife and I received some sad news recently. My Aunt June passed away. She was 97 years old and the last surviving family member of my parents' generation.

Growing up, our family was – and still is - is a close unit. She and my Uncle Art (Valley, my dad's brother) were the heart and soul of our family's get-together during the holidays. They were the main attraction that brought the festivities to life. My aunt's deadpan reaction and wry smile were the perfect counter-balances to her husband's lightning quick-wit. It was akin to watching Ralph and Alice Kramden 'do what they do best' … namely, entertain. Such wonderful memories.

In my hometown of Ogdensburg, NY, both were charter members – and driving forces - of that community's 'Showtime.' 'Showtime' was an annual variety show put on by talented local folks. June and Art's genius comedic-savvy was indispensable to its success.

They had no children of their own but were loving guardians to all the youngsters in the neighborhood. At their camp on the St. Lawrence River, they had a store-like freezer – the kind accessible from the top with six compartment doors - filled with Popsicles, Fudgsicles and Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Nephews and nieces from the McNally, Ramie and Valley clans weren't the only beneficiaries; neighbors like the Hollis and Reckers also reaped the love, affection and generosity of the mother hens living next door. You couldn't find kinder souls.

Her passing is the end of a generation only in the physical sense. Friend Dick Hollis – one of those youngsters cited above – would often visit his old neighbor - as did my caring and compassionate cousin, Mary Ann 'McNally' Caufield. They both said she was prepared for her final day. In failing health and having lost her eyesight several years ago, she accepted it as a blessing.

One thing that sticks with me is something she asked Dick not long ago. Reaching to find his arm, she pulled him in and whispered “You won't forget me, will you?”

I think I can answer that for everyone who knew her. “No, Aunt June, we won't forget you. No way, my dear Aunt June. We will miss you … but we will never, ever forget you. And thank you ... thank you for the love you brought into so many of our lives.”

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.


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