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Aunt Jeanene

Going to make a blog post of a personal nature today.  However, it again will touch a theme that I return to often–family.

I have an aunt that is celebrating a milestone birthday in the next few days.  No, I am not going to say exactly how many years that might be.  I am not stupid.

Nevertheless, it is a time to celebrate, and my Aunt Jeanene is well-worth the celebration!  I do not know that I can tell you all the reasons that is true.  As I think about it, so many things come to my mind.  I intend to share some here, but am not exactly sure how to organize them.

To begin with, my Aunt Jeanene is a miracle.  I am not going to say exactly why I say that either.  Family knows, as we also well-know what a blessing my Aunt Jeanene has been to all of us for all of these years.

She comes from a ranch in the Nebraska sandhills, one of the best places on earth, and some of the best people on earth too.  Aunt Jeanene knows all of them, and everyone knows her.

Growing up I loved to tease my Aunt Jeanene.  I do not recall what the teasing was about, but I remember her telling me she was going to catch me and give me a kiss.  That always resulted in my taking off running, and by my count she never did catch me.  It was easy to out-run Aunt Jeanene.

We loved to visit Aunt Jeanene and Uncle Ivan’s place when we were kids.  Sure, a big part of that was we got to see and play with our cousins.  While we were there, we were never treated like visitors.  We were treated like family.  That included pitching in and doing chores.  Aunt Jeanene would put us to work vacuuming the living room or folding laundry or doing something else.  You would think that would make us dislike staying at my aunt’s place, but looking back I am pretty sure that made us love it even more.

Getting older we knew Aunt Jeanene was going to check up on us, what we were doing with our lives, where we were going, who we were seeing.  We knew that she was going to ask the hard questions, but we also knew she was going to listen, and think.  When she gave advice, you better listen too.

Speaking of thinking, you do not want to play games with her.  She will flat out beat you at checkers or Chinese checkers.  Oh, and she is not beyond bending the rules a little bit to gain an advantage.

Aunt Jeanene loves to laugh.  She likes to tell jokes, but she is terrible at it.  Somewhere in the telling she will forget something, or goof the punchline.  Of course that makes it all the more funnier for us and then she would laugh along too.  She was “a poet and didn’t know it, but her feet showed it, they were big ones”.  (That was an example of one of her mistakes, the line is supposed to be “. . . but her feet showed it, they were Longfellows.”  But, it was so much funnier the way Aunt Jeanene said it.)

One of her favorite stories of my sister and I were when we were pre-school age.  One afternoon Aunt Jeanene had us and headed downtown to do some errands.  She was driving the then-new station wagon; the first vehicle they had with power brakes.  Now remember it was a different time.  A time when there were no car-seats for kids.  A time when kids freely rode in the front seat.  My sister and I were riding along in the front seat, across the bench from my aunt.  She had not quite mastered power brakes, and every time she came to a stop sign we would come to a SUDDEN stop.  At which time my sister and I would tumble off the front seat and onto the floor.  We would scramble back up onto the seat, and away we would go.  Until we were dumped again at the next stop sign.

Honestly, I cannot tell you that I remember that harrowing drive with my Aunt Jeanene.  Makes no difference because she remembers, and she gets to laughing every time she tells it.  I love listening to her tell that story.

My aunt makes the best pickles (However, my daughter is challenging).  She often sends a jar or two home with us.  Those jars are guarded as if they were filled with gold.  Her potato salad is the best too, and she often shows up with some kind of amazing dessert.  Just this past Thanksgiving we marveled at the pictures of her peach pie.


I cannot tell you that I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors with my aunt.  However, there are a few special occasions that come to mind.  I can recall one spring Sunday afternoon when we all piled into the station wagon and went to see the rattlesnake den.  Remember another when the whole family, including my aunt, hiked to the bottom of the canyon and back picking mushrooms.

Know that my uncle had her in the field and on the water at least a few times.  I remember hearing a few stories and there is a trophy deer hanging on the wall that Aunt Jeanene shot.

I have copies of some photos one of my cousins found:


That would be a picnic on the shoreline of some Nebraska water.  My aunt is facing the camera.  The kids are my cousins and my Grandma and Grandpa Roth are at the fire.  I am sure fishing was involved and they were all there doing it together!

Here is another photo I love:


I do not recall ever being on the ice with my Aunt Jeanene.  But, that photo is proof that she went ice-fishing at least once.  In a dress!  Wearing what look like tennis shoes!

I have no idea of the story behind that photo.  Wondering if my Aunt Jeanene ran out to where the guys were ice-fishing after church one Sunday?  Wonder what they caught?  Wonder if my aunt caught any?

I have at least two fans of this blog.  One of them is my Aunt Jeanene.  In recent years it has become common that my aunt will make me look up one of my blogs on a smart phone and then read it out loud for everyone.  Those readings are usually one story or another of family and our adventures in Nebraska’s great outdoors.  I wrote one this past summer in particular with Aunt Jeanene in mind, a story about one of our favorite holidays, the 4th of July, Green Apples and Ladybugs.

Oh yes, I had to do a reading of that blog for her!

One more thing and I will quit my rambling. . . .

Whenever family gets together these days, Aunt Jeanene often says she is thankful to have all her “kids” home.  Some of us are not actually her offspring, but we know exactly what she means.  Our gatherings are always filled with laughter and we have fun with each other concerning which one of us is her favorite–favorite daughter, favorite grandkid, favorite son-in-law, favorite niece or nephew, etc.  In reality we know that we ALL are Aunt Jeanene’s favorite.  She has always made each and every one of us feel that way.

So let me close with this:  Happy Birthday Aunt Jeanene!  We love you!

From, your favorite nephew!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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