Aunt Mayme and Aunt Dada were my grandma's two oldest sisters and the two eldest Geisen children.
I remember both of them very well since Aunt Mayme lived to be 97 years old and Aunt Dada was 103, and they were both "with it" until the day they died.
The sisters would be at every family event (the Geisens always loved a party), and I remember visiting Mayme and Dada at their home in Covington. They became roommates after Mayme's husband, Uncle "Zazzee" (Harry Hunninghake) died in 1965.
Neither sister had any children (Dada never married), so they relied on each other and their other siblings. All the Geisens were very close, but these 2 sisters especially so.
I remember being extremely bored when we "had" to visit these 2 ladies. I certainly had better things to do, didn't I? I wasn't bored because they ignored me. They'd "make" over me, get me treats, try to talk to me, etc., but I couldn't wait to leave. And those feelings multiplied when they went to live in the rest home. I hated visiting that place. But Mom would take us, and Aunt Mayme and Aunt Dada seemed to enjoy seeing us.
I'm ashamed now at how I must have acted toward them. I wasn't a brat or nasty. I was simply indifferent. I never asked them questions about their lives or what interested them. It never occurred to me to do that. I never viewed them as "real" people with priceless knowledge and experience that they could've shared with me. If only I had asked.
Once I began researching my tree, I kept coming back to these two women. I started asking Mom questions about her aunts. Because I realized that these ladies, especially Aunt Mayme, KNEW a lot of the personalities I was beginning to obsess over.
Aunt Mayme was held in the arms of our Union spy grandmother, Charlotte Brand Pistner. They both knew their grandpa, Adam Pistner. Oma Maria Susanna Schmitz Geisen would've held them, laughed with them, given them treats. They even would've known and REMEMBERED their great grandfather, Johan Jodoc Schmitz, from Klüsserath. They knew what his voice sounded like. What his laugh was like. Did they know why their great uncle, Jacob Schmitz, was only left $1 in his father's will when all the other Schmitz children were left equal share of the "estate?"
And all I would've had to do was ask. Just ask them about their childhoods and their family. Give them a drink or two, and they would've sung like canaries.
I had no idea that Aunt Dada had been engaged to a man who was killed in Europe in WWI. She never fell in love again. I just thought she was a "spinster." It never occurred to me that this "old woman" was once young and in love. Now I think of her in that moment when she found out that the love of her life had lost his in a foreign land.
I never thought to ask Mom if she knew why Aunt Mayme never had children. And then during my research, I found out that Aunt Mayme had survived an ectopic pregnancy early in her marriage. That, in and of itself, was an amazing thing. Since Mayme and Zazzee couldn't have children of their own, they doted on all of their nieces and nephews (my mother included). But according to Mom, her eldest brother was probably their favorite. He was their first nephew, and they adored him.
I still can't believe that I missed the many opportunities I had to get to know these women. When I find "new" Geisens or Pistners and realize that Mayme and Dada would've known them, I could just kick myself. They were my link to these previous generations, and I blew it.
But they weren't just my link. They were amazing ladies! Two more examples of strong women in my family tree. And I completely ignored them.
If you're blessed enough to still know your grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, etc., please do me a favor. ASK THEM QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR CHILDHOODS! Ask them about their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. What were they like? What made them laugh? Were they stern? What stories did they tell?
Because one day, they won't be there to ask. You can never go back. Please learn from my painful lesson.