#33 : A Steel Magnolia...... Aunt Letha Lee

she said "you wouldn't believe how cute these babies are"  she loved GRACIE as we all do...

She was the matriarch of my large Kay Family......yes she was.   I am not sure if that occurred before or after my grandma kay died.    Grandma Kay was a little bitty woman ,  all of 5'0 or 4'11 if the truth be known.  She married my great grandfather, Pinkney Kay who was a tall tall man especially in comparison to her.

Together they had 13 children in total.  9 girls and 4 boys.   Most if not all of them took after my great grandfather and was tall.....tall in comparison to ...well,  grandma kay and most of my nuclear family.

Aunt Letha Lee was the 2nd from the youngest daughter,   just 1 year ahead of my grandmother and her youngest sister.   She towered above me, as did my grandmother,  but in a different way.   She was tall and thin with short cropped hair and a smile as wide as Texas.    She "made a life for herself" outside of Louisiana, where she was born and raised.  She skipped town,  she got the hell outta there, Provencal Louisiana and went to conquer the world. 

And She did.   She proudly served in the Army and achieved things as a nurse in several wars that was opened doors for women in the service for years to come.  She commanded in the Army, she was a caretaker too... her dual role in the service only mimicked her real life.   

As far as I can remember she traveled.  She drove a car ....or flew on a plane or both... most of the time.  She came at least once a year to go "home" to her Mamma's house, to visit everyone and would stay at least a month.   During that month's time , she spent many hours with my Grandmother.   She didn't come to talk about the exciting, dangerous, brave life she was living but rather to listen to the whoa's and adventures of her family.  Her siblings and her nieces and her nephews, all 10,000 of them!  

I always knew she loved me ,  even when I was separated by distance and time from my Kay family, she, along with my Aunt Odeal, kept in touch with me as best they could and as they were allowed.   I guess when I became an adult that responsibility  twisted and it became my responsibility to be in touch with everyone.  I had been told over the years stories about "who's who" from my Grandmother, who made sure she let me know "which Lisa" was who as there was a Lisa Vige and a Lisa Kay and another Lisa that married Chris... and then who's sibling of hers parented them,  but I never really "knew" them.    

Aunt Letha Lee made sure I knew her.   She would stop in VA as she drove  her gas guzzling big ole cars the distance BY HERSELF mind you until she was at least 75.    

"75 is when you start to get old"  according to her.

Aunt Letha Lee would stop in to visit and talk about her husband to me,  although I only met him one or two times and we didn't have a lot in common to talk about, she made sure she would tell me what he was up to.

If there was ever a person that I could call to confide in,  ask advice from ,  joke about my life with, make a fool of myself to,  share my secrets with that I never ever ever wanted to make mad,  it was her....my aunt letha lee.

She lived a long full life.  She died on her birthday at 95.   She had been ready to go for at least two years that she shared with me through her tear filled voice.  Her mind was 100%,  her body was not.  

I don't think I have been loved so unconditionally by another adult in my life.  I embarrassed myself a few times with my teenaged and young adult behaviors that you don't want everyone to hear about or see.  The things I will never be proud of....but she still loved me , didn't bat an eye, pretty much acted like those things didn't happen or matter later down the road, when she would want to hear all about what was going on in my life.   

 I will miss her voice, I will miss uncle gordon hollaring "Your little Buddy is on the Phone" as I waited sometimes up to 40 minutes for her to walk to the phone that was just across the room.

I will miss her advice.  Google or Siri  don't even come close to providing the wisdom that she offered.

She was buried in the Snow Of Connecticut.   She will be remembered in Arlington and Again in Friendship cemetery..... our family cemetery in Provencal..... where my Grandma and Grandpa Kay are resting and where my Father wanted to be.

The matriarch is gone.

I fear that there is no one to fill her shoes....no one to replace her.

She had no biological children but she kept all of the nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews in her heart and not far out of site.  Even when she was not physically with me,  she always has been with me in spirit , sitting on my shoulder..... letting me know what I have done wrong and cheering on what ever life choice I decided to make.

When they put my aunt letha lees body in that cold snowy Connecticut ground , I was not there, but then again they say "neither was she."

As the snow and ice fell on my Virginia ground, I went into a mini-depression, a selfish one.... for me and my cousins who will miss her forever.  I know that no one will be left to hold together the pieces the ties that bind the Kay family for generations to come.   

All of us that are left ,  are spread far and wide ....and non of us have 12 siblings like that anymore.  I am thankful for mr. thomas slyvest who wrote down his memories of my family ... .the original ones, my Grandma & Grandpa Kay's legacy..... 

 Cornbread and Collard Greens by Tom Sylvest if you would like to read .....