Aunt Fil

I’m heading to a holiday market today and I wish I could invite my Aunt Fil. I really couldn’t write much about my life without writing about my Aunt Fil (short for Filumena-and oh how she disliked her name!). My Aunt Fil lived a few blocks away from us growing up. She lived with my uncle Bob and my Aunt Mary, her other sister (the third sister was my mother). My Aunt Fil was unique in that she had children and worked full-time outside of the home in the 50’s when women did not do that. She also had a home-cooked meal on the table every night, the house clean, and the laundry done because those were expected wife duties (it actually hurt to type that). My point is she was a “superwoman” when that wasn’t even a thing.

What I remember most was hanging out in her basement where she had her craft area all set up…and it was elaborate! There was a sewing area, painting area, ribbon, material, thread…it was like a store! She sewed, painted, crafted, macraméd, crocheted, quilted, embroidered, flower arranged, cooked, baked, canned—you name it. She was truly gifted. I grew up helping watching her do all sorts of projects. I remember how she’d put my mom, my Aunt Mary and I to work assembly-line style and we’d laugh and have a ball. Looking back, it was such treasured time with them. What I wouldn’t do to experience it again.

She was never interested in profiting from her talents, which by today’s standards, is hilarious. Now anyone who did all she did would have an Etsy store and be selling their socks off.  Instead, she ran our church’s holiday bazaar every year where they raised a ton of money for the parish and it showcased her talents. For every event you can imagine—weddings, showers, church functions, civic organization events—she created beautiful things. Favors, centerpieces, quilts, wreaths, home decor, dolls, doll clothes, pillows, ornaments were all among her many creations. She never took payment for them. Most remarkable were her hand-made (and I mean each piece cut out and hand-sewn) quilts for which she and my mom and the church quilting circle would sit and hand quilt each week. Luckily, I have one from her and one from my mom to cherish.

I could always count on my Aunt Fil to get excited about things. She was energetic and a doer! She is the one that would always take on a challenge and help me solve any problem and see any project through to fruition. And she always brought her own creative, often brilliant ideas to the table.

When she became ill (fairly suddenly) and her passing was eminient, I left our spring break vacation to go see her. Unfortunately, she never did open her eyes and I wasn’t sure she heard me, but that was the last time I saw her alive. My mom was ill at the time also (that’s another story) and it was a very difficult time. So much of my life included her and I hate that my children do not know her.

I think it’s been 9 years since my Aunt Fil passed away. She was my mom’s oldest sister and the matriarch of our family. She planned family vacations, she brought us all together, she hosted, she planned, she gave and gave and gave. Even when it was difficult, we came together because she wanted it and that is what made her the happiest. She defined family. I love her for what she did for us.

Do you have someone like this in your family? You’re so lucky! I’d love to hear about them.





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