Aunt Janet was everyone's "favorite aunt". Maybe this was because she and Uncle Howard had no children. We could all imagine what it might be like to call them "Mom and Dad", to live on their farm, and to bask in the warmth of their love and laughter. What they really would have been like as "parents" was up to our imaginations. Nothing but "wonderful" was the result.
Aunt Janet is impossible to talk about without also including Uncle Howard. They were inseparable even though Uncle Howard died on March 28, 1995. As teenagers, they were married one weekend by a justice-of-the-peace in Kentucky. (This was the weekend after they tried to get married in Ohio ... which was the weekend before being told they were "too young" by a justice-of-the-peace in their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia.) No one remembers a cross word between them. Everyone remembers the best country cooking, the amazing fields of daffodils, the down-to-earth practicality that ran their lives, and the fact that they paid cash, in advance, for absolutely everything they ever owned. We all loved them.
There are too many fabulous stories about Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard to share in a blog post. My favorite, however, is on my left hand. It is the gold band that Uncle Howard gave Aunt Janet on their tenth anniversary ... because obviously two eloping teenagers in the early 1930s didn't have such a token of fidelity and love. On September 12, 1981 the platinum rings with which Steve and I were supposed to get married were temporarily lost (for four months). I got married with Aunt Janet's ring. I tried to return it after the ceremony and she said, "Well, somebody finally got married with the old thing! You might as well keep it!" I will always cherish it. Who wouldn't want to be married with such a ring!
Well, now Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard are united. Below is her obituary. The memorial service was very touching and attended by people who knew her from Woodlawn Retirement Community, her church, her garden club, her dear neighbors, and plenty of family members. The flowers were amazing. Aunt Janet would have liked them.
Above is the arrangement given by Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria.
This is the arrangement from my parents, Henry and Linda Lenz, and my grandma (Aunt Janet's sister-in-law) LoraDell Baker.
After the memorial service, the funeral director and cemetery employees went to the grave site.
From the distance, we could see the coffin being lowered into the ground.
We went to another part of the cemetery ... to where "Mom and Pop" are buried. They were my great, grandparents ... Uncle Howard's parents ... Aunt Janet's In-laws. Also buried here is Elma, my grandmother's sister who died right before her sixteenth birthday and Grandpa Baker.
We brought the single red rose that my sister Wanda ordered. She generally has one for Uncle Howard's grave every Memorial Day. Instead of placing it there, we took the rose and the flower arrangement from my sons, Mathias and Alex, and their cousins Vincent, Tony, and Nicole ...
(Above: Arrangement from Mathias, Alex, Vincent, Tony, and Nicole.)
... to this area ...
... where I tried them first on one side of the family marker ...
... and then the opposite side.
In the end, I don't remember which side got the bouquet but I do know that the rose was left here.
Please know that though this day was solemn and prayerful in many ways, it was also a time to celebrate and laugh and remember Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard. They will always be loved and missed.
In Memory of
Janet Frances OSWALD
December 13, 1914 - August 4, 2014
Janet Slone Oswald, 99, widow of Howard E. Oswald, died Monday, August 4, 2014 in the Woodlands Retirement Community. She was born December 13, 1914 in Ashland, KY, a daughter of the late Garfield M. Slone and Wilhelmina Meyers Slone. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Howard E. Oswald and her only sister, Mary Madeline Richardson and her husband, W.E. Richardson “Rich” of Huntington, WV. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Lora Dell Baker of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, a special niece, Mrs. Henry Lenz, of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania and a nephew, Larry Baker of North Carolina and their families, who have many wonderful memories of growing up with aunt Janet and uncle Howard. Janet loved growing flowers and horticulture and designing flower arrangements with them. She gave seminars on her techniques and taught many in our area. She was instrumental in the annual Daffodil Flower Show and the annual Rose Show in the design divisions. Janet was a life member of the National Garden Club as well as the Huntington Garden Club and the Beverly Hills Garden Club, of which she served as president on two occasions. She was an Emeritus Master Flower Show judge and gave inspiration to many. A friend tells the story of going for a walk in the woods with Janet and how exciting it was hearing her talk about the things found in nature in the language of the principles and elements of art and seeing Janet’s soul emerge as she spoke with wonder and amazement at God’s Creations. She was a member of the Central Christian Church serving in many capacities but particularly as a Sunday school teacher and as president of the Christian Women’s Fellowship. Burial will be in Woodmere Memorial Park. There will be no visitation. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, August 7, 2014 by the Rev. Kevin Snow in Woodmere Memorial Park’s Abbey of Remembrance. Those who wish may make expressions of sympathy to the Central Christian Church.