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Like all little girls, I had an idol growing up. He was not a movie star, a pop singer like Elvis or Ricky Nelson, or a famous sports figure or even a cowboy like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy. He was my mother’s youngest brother, George Crawford Hurt, known by all as “Dinky.” Because my Irish mother married into an Italian family and political correctness was unheard of at that time, she got the nickname of “Mike.” When I was born, her fifteen-year-old brother promptly dubbed me “Little Mike.” When he joined the Navy during World War II, he was a faithful and eloquent letter writer and never failed to close with, “give my love to my little Mike.” When he returned home, he let me tag along on his dates, which I feel must have thwarted a few promising relationships, and always made time for me. I adored him, plain and simple.
When I was eleven years old, my beloved Uncle Dinky got married, and his new bride, Sara Cofield, and I got along famously. She invited me over to bake cookies and have slumber parties and quickly became my favorite Aunt. I babysat their two precious girls, Celeste and Denise, who are like the two little sisters I always wanted. Aunt Sara jokingly dubbed me her “third daughter.”
When I went away to college, it was Aunt Sara who sent me homemade brownies and cookies, and I followed her example by choosing Home Economics as my major. Unfortunately, I did not succeed as well as she. When I got married, she hosted a shower for me at their home. After over sixty years of marriage, we still use the set of Revere Ware she and Uncle Dinky bought us for a wedding gift. She instinctively knew that both the cookware and our marriage were built to last.
Aunt Sara has been a major influence on my life and that of our entire family. She was wise, witty, articulate, thoughtful, and showed her love for us in a thousand ways on every birthday and holiday. I knew that I could always depend on her compassion and sage advice, so she has been a confidant, counselor, cheerleader, and hand holder for me throughout my life. I could go on for hours about her many attributes but knowing her as I did, she is ready for me to sit down and shut up.
So, here’s to the best gift my uncle ever gave me: Here is to my dear Aunt Sara. May she rest in eternal peace and give Uncle Dinky a big hug from his little Mike when he greets her at the gates of heaven.