It’s been a few years since I wrote the first post celebrating an important woman in my life – my very special Auntie Arlene Buelow. I’ve updated the post over the years, noting birthdays and special occasions as they occurred. Today marks the second birthday without her physical presence in my world; she went home to Jesus on January 12, 2017. On this day, Auntie Arlene would be 100 years old, and the empty space is palpable,even a year-and-a-half later.
Auntie Arlene was unique on multiple levels. She was the daughter of a twin, and she married a twin, my dad’s brother, Elmer. She became the mother of twins, my cousins, Jane and Janice. Even more, she became the great grandmother of twins, which I always thought was fairly awesome! On another level, I saw her dressed in what she called her “barn clothes” complete with bandanna, overalls, and workboots because she worked the farm side-by-side with my my Uncle Elm. She maintained a “kitchen garden” as well as many of my grandmother’s plants. She’d come in from outside, get “washed up” and dress for company, putting on an apron to prepare plenty of food for a crowd. Auntie Arlene was a multi-faceted woman for sure.
Why was she so special to me? It was through her that I was able to purchase the original Buelow homestead in rural Shawano county, which became my home for thirteen years. Living near her allowed our relationship to blossom and we spent a fair amount of time together, many meals shared at the table in her apartment in town, many heartfelt conversations. We talked about everything- especially family history, much of which was recorded in her Bible. We discussed religion – theology and doctrine – as well as politics, all those things one isn’t supposed to speak of in polite company. We didn’t always agree, but we could say anything and even share a chuckle over our differences. She kept me informed about local events – people we knew and who knew our family. We discussed world and sociopolitical events as well. She kept her mind busy, and for a long time, was an avid Packers fan; she could tell you names and stats.
For me, the most treasured piece of our relationship was that she was always in my corner, my biggest encourager. When I was debating grad school and ministry, she advised my to go for it, an affirmation I received gladly and gratefully. When I got my first Master’s degree in Christian ministry:pastoral counseling, I took that diploma to her and we opened it together. It was huge, much larger than the bachelor’s diplomas and we had all kinds of fun with that. It was like a scroll; I said I felt like the mayor of Oz, which caused a fair amount of laughter. She held one corner and I unrolled that diploma while my cousin, Jane, took pictures and joined in the fun! When I received my Master of Divinity (Mdiv) diploma in May of last year, I spoke with Jane and we agreed that her mom/my aunt was indeed smiling at, and cheering for, me. And while I knew she was in a better place, I missed being able to take a diploma to her one more time.
Auntie Arlene was my faithful encourager. When I was looking for confirmation of the path I had chosen, she reminded me why I was on it in the first place, another reason she was so special to me. I knew without a doubt that she was praying for me during my cancer battle and throughout my grad school journey; she told me so, regularly. She was a prayer warrior for her entire family, and I was blessed to be counted among them.
My Auntie Arlene was an influence from my youngest years. The Buelows were a large crew and on any given Sunday, any number of aunts and uncles with all the cousins would show up to share a meal and an afternoon of socializing. She had a beautiful, ready smile and everyone was welcome at her table.
My precious Auntie Arlene would be 100 today. Enjoy the photos; I have so many it’s hard to choose. We took a selfie every week when I visited. Our system was that I’d focus my phone camera and hold it, while she reached up and pushed the button. Below is one of my all-time favorite photos, Auntie Arlene and me, approximately 1959, on the front steps of the Buelow homestead. We re-staged that photo in August, 2011, without me sitting on her lap, of course. As you see, there was lots of love and laughter shared that day! Thank you for allowing me to reminisce Grace and peace, y’all!!