I've been thinking about my Aunt who passed away in late June and what I will say at her memorial service. So many wonderful memories rise up that were lying dormant for years.
My Aunt lived in Chicago and was a nurse at the Prominent Hospital near the John Hancock building and indeed, she lived nearly across the street from it in subsidized housing for doctors and nurses.
Many times, my sister and I, rode the EL into the city where my Aunt would meet us, take us to lunch at Marshall Fields or let us look around. She always had something special planned like swimming in Lake Michigan at the beach, going to the Art Institute or a craft project or to eat couscous, frozen chocolate Frango mint pie or drink ginger ale. She took me to see David Copperfield before he was hugely famous, and I attended at least one National Geographic Society lecture.
I remember being excited to go and spend a weekend with her. She loved to read and when I was so enthralled with the Dr. Suess book, Green Eggs and Ham, she made me green eggs (with food coloring) and ham for breakfast once. I thought that was just the coolest thing and something my mother would never do!!!
Whenever my sister and I would go for a weekend, I recall that Mom packed a knitted dark brown with thin tan stripes bag with long wooden handles knitted onto to it and filled with our toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, pj's, fresh underwear and change of clothes. We would get on the EL, press our faces to the windows and watch the suburban landscape change to urban with little green space, except for a couple parks, highrises and graffiti sprayed public housing apartment complexes and we could see where the EL tracks would curve ahead and take us to the Loop.
I wonder now, as I think of it, what those on the EL thought of us, carrying that knitted bag, looking like immigrant children who spoke English flawlessly and spoke Swiss-German when we wanted to say things that no one else would understand. We carried no pink or lavendar princess or Disney inspired overnight bags, just that humble non-descript dark brown knitted bag. Thinking back on it, it just makes me wonder and I feel as though we looked like first generation ethnic children! And we were.
My sister still has the bag tucked away somewhere safe in her house. Memories of trips into the city and adventures with my Aunt are still contained in that knitted bag and in my heart.