An amazing woman passed into the annals of history the other day at the extraordinary age of 99.  She was my mother’s sister and my aunt.

As a child the family moved often, often prompting her to say she had attended 52 schools, which though I believe that  number to be apocryphal, it probably was actually a larger number than most.  My grandfather was a dear and charming asthmatic hypochondriac who could no longer work, and who believed his health improved by simply moving a few blocks from where they were living at the time.  This led to a divorce, leaving my grandmother to support herself and 2 small daughters.

The women in my family are strong survivors, and while Grandma took in boarders, the girls went to work part-time at early ages.  Education was not valued as highly as survival, especially during the Depression, and they were lucky to attain high school educations.

She loved clothes and dancing and wanted  so much more than she had and with no certain prospect of obtaining.  She had great style and made most of her clothes.

She worked at whatever jobs she could find , going to night school learning to become a secretary, always reading and learning to improve herself.  By 1949 she was supporting herself, her daughter and her mother.

She took a job with Standard Oil of California which took her to Saudi Arabia, and Aramco, where she met her husband.  They remained happily married for over 50 years.   During the thirty years they lived in Dharan,  they traveled the world, and she absorbed facts and knowledge like a sponge.  She was a fascinating conversationalist on history, politics, religion and the daily news from all over the world.  Her taste was impeccable and she collected china, silver, rugs, books and jewelry from Europe and Asia.

She is a tough act to follow.