And so the aunt I never knew returned home with her infant daughter. She was withdrawn, preferring to spend the days with her baby, wandering the farm and dreaming, and writing her poems. She held to the belief that the boy she loved would one day return to her and their child. She was melancholy and lost her easy smile. She spent most of her hours alone or with her baby.
She wrote this poem for her daughter.
She was sixteen at the time.
You Make Me Think
You make me think of all I know
Too beautiful to express
A garden in the moonlight
Love, hope and tenderness.
If ever I see an angel
In heaven way up there
I'm sure it will look like you
With skin so soft and fair
Your hair would rival its halo
So soft and king o'light
And eyes could never be like yours
So kind and sweet and bright
They've never made any word
To tell you how I feel
You're like a dream, a fancy
And yet my dear, you're real.
This photograph was taken when my aunt had just turned seventeen
There was some sort of hearing about the baby and her paternity in the spring of my aunt's seventeenth year. I know few details but during the hearing several friends of the boy testified that they, too, had sex with my child-aunt and that she was loose and wanton. The boy himself said that he had never loved her, had never promised marriage and could never love anyone of such unsavory character. He further testified that any number of boys could have been the baby's father. The most damaging statements came from my aunt's own sister who said she knew for a fact that her sister had "many" boyfriends...far too many for a good girl.
After the hearing my young aunt became even more withdrawn and depressed. On a beautiful day in June, with her daughter sleeping and my aunt's eight-year-old sister playing outside, this lovely young woman took down her father's shotgun and ended her life. It was four months after her seventeenth birthday.
Had this story been fiction, I would have chosen a better ending. But sadly, the story is true. My grandparents raised the daughter as if she were their own child. She grew up, married, and had two daughters of her own. To my knowledge she never sought out her father.
The aunt who made the lying statements? Well, that is another story for another day.