Friday, January 21, 2011

Remembering Aune on her 99th Birthday

Today my maternal grandmother Aune (Reini) Proctor would have been 99 years old. She passed away Oct 24, 2007. Since it seems that she did not have an obituary published, here is my version of what it should have said:

Everett and Aune Proctor c.1930s

Aune Maria Reini was born on January 21, 1912 in Hamilton, Washington to Finnish immigrants Matti Wiita and Mathilda (Huhtala) Reini. Her parents had each independently come to the U.S. from South Ostrobothnia, Finland (1900 and 1902) and married on July 6, 1906 in Washington State. Matti often worked as a foreman for the logging industry and Mathilda sometimes ran a boarding house in Seattle for newly arrived Finns. 

Aune had a difficult young adulthood, which ultimately resulted in her growing into a very strong, fiery woman. She lost her two sisters, whom she very much loved and adored, and three newborn children all within a span of 11 years in her young life. She was only 13 when her oldest sister Helia died. Soon after, Aune became very ill and spent much of her 14th year in bed. Her illness was most likely due to her intense grief at losing her sister. She and her sisters had all shared a bed growing up, resulting in a special closeness between them. Aune thought so highly of her sister Helia that she spoke of her with deep love and in the most glowing of terms, almost on a daily basis, for the rest of her long life. To make matters worse for the young woman, she lost her close sister Miriam only 11 years later. After Miriam’s death, she cried so much and so often that she feared she would damage her young daughter's psyche. She managed to go on with her life, but she would always suffer the effects of the loss of those closest to her.

Aune, Helia and Miriam Reini, c.1925

Aune married Everett Herman Proctor, whom she met at a dance, on May 5, 1927 in Snohomish County, Washington.  She often remarked that it was love at first sight. The young couple moved into a "shack" on Everett's parents Daniel and Millie Proctor's property, where they lived until, at least, 1930.

Aune and Everett c.1930s

Aune suffered from various maladies into her thirties. She had difficulty carrying her pregnancies to term and delivered all five of her children prematurely, which resulted in three of them dying before she could take them home from the hospital. (They are buried in Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, WA.) This caused her and her husband great sadness. Her daughters Jean and Janis were able to overcome their premature starts and grew into relatively healthy children. From that point and on into her nineties, Aune enjoyed excellent health.

She began working at Boeing around 1940. For almost 30 years, she worked full time while raising her family. She enjoyed it so much that when women were urged to quit their jobs after WWII, she continued on and, eventually, managed her department. At the same time, her husband Everett was working his way up in the ranks, and was given the job of Supervisor at the Seattle Water Department. One could say that they were ahead of their time as a "career couple," long before that became the societal norm.

Everett and Aune 1956

Aune excelled at fashion and drawing. She absolutely loved to go shopping and put together outfits for her children and grandchildren. She also expertly sewed special occasion dresses for her daughters and granddaughters. She spent much of her retirement, joining her daughter Janis at the mall, or taking the bus on her own, for a day of shopping. When she was home, she would sit and sketch female silhouettes for hours. Those who knew her, often remarked that she should have had a career as a designer or buyer for a retail store.

Aune c.1940s

She became a young widow after 47 years of marriage, when Everett passed away in 1974 while they were living in Rancho Bernardo, CA. She soon moved a few blocks to the home of her daughter Janis Moore and her family, spending the summers with her elder daughter Jean Hewitt in Salt Lake City, UT. She lived a very active life and was immersed in her grandchildren’s activities on a daily basis (including doing their paper routes and mowing the lawns when they were supposed to do it themselves). In her day to day life, other than her regular shopping trips, she enjoyed her religion, crossword puzzles (she could spell anything), Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, dancing, sweets and babies (of which she was provided a never ending supply in the form of grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren). She was a hardy old woman, seemingly immune to common illnesses like cancer and heart problems that plagued others her age. She had been repeatedly exposed in her younger years to handfuls of asbestos, extended x-rays and secondhand smoke, but none of this had an effect on her. She seemed like she would live forever...

Aune c.1970s

In the summer of 2007, her daughter Janis was finally unable to continue to care for her full time, as she had been doing for quite a few years prior, because her husband Tony was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. So, her elder daughter Jean arranged to have her cared for in a nursing home in Salt Lake City. At first, Aune seemed to enjoy her time there, socializing and taking part in the daily activities. However, she soon deteriorated and passed away after only having been there about four months. There can be no doubt that her legacy continues to live on in her large family. At the time of her death, she had 9 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, her sisters Helia and Miriam, her half-sister in Finland Hilma (Wiita) Myllykangas, her brothers Louie and George, her half-brother Einar Huhtala, three infant children and one grandchild Kathleen Cook.

Aune c.1990

1 comment:

  1. My cousin (first, once removed), Aune's great granddaughter wrote this on her Facebook in response to this post, so I thought I would share it here:

    "I was able to be at Aune's passing. That was my first time to witness a passing of a human being. It was a gift to be there, really.

    I wasn't close to Aune but do have fond memories of traveling in a car from Southern California to Las Vegas and once all the way to Utah. I used to see her mostly when we would visit my cousin in San Diego, where she lived. She was a character! She always stood out to me to be very fashionable for such an older lady. I didn't know the side of her that was religious because we didn't share that religion.

    I never could understand how someone could eat all those sweets and never really get sick or fat. She used to have cookies, donuts, and little Twinkies hidden under her bed! I found that I liked those little cookies from her, Fig Newtons. She always had those. She ate a lot of avocados and always drank hot water with lemon. She seemed to eat like a bird...a little at a time."