August 28, 2011


My favorite aunt and uncle were born under a Cancer sun two days apart in the same town.

Aunt Mildred was one of eight kids. Uncle Joe was one of two. They had no children of their own.

Neither of them were "smothering." Kind, patient souls, they were home and family-oriented. They made sure all the cousins played together often and initiated the family reunions and vacations every year, which usually involved camping.

Cancer is a patriotic sign, the sign of home, Mom, and apple pie. They lived on Election Street in a small Rockwellian town, in the very same house where my uncle was born and lived his entire life, except when he was serving his country in the war.

After my grandfather passed in the early 1960’s, they took over the primary care of my grandmother. Although Grandma suffered terribly from arthritis, she was able to live independently until her death on her 91st birthday. Anytime she needed someone, my aunt and uncle were just across the street. They visited often, two or three times a day, and on the porch swing in the evenings. They shared meals frequently. They were a close family, probably the only non-dysfunctional one I’ve ever known.

My aunt was a beautician who worked from a home salon. She was not "round like the moon," but tall, willowy, lovely, and ageless. She used Oil of Olay and smelled of Este Lauder. She loved to watch the Miss America Pageant each year. It was her tradition.

My uncle owned a home furnishings store. He was always making a home improvement or adding on to the house. He also liked to build campers, so they could take home with them wherever they traveled. They were married, I’m guessing, 60 + years, until my uncle’s passing just before his 88th birthday.

I asked my aunt once if she had ever gotten really mad at my uncle because it was the hardest thing in the world for me to imagine. They were such warm, nurturing people. "Oh, yes," she said. "Sometimes I would get so mad that I would lock him out of the house until I got over it." How Cancerian is that?

D. Joseph Sullivan          Mildred I. Sullivan
7/10/1921 - 6/18/2009         7/12/1921 - 4/02/2012