Last week I ran into Mildred Schroeder at the Folio Cafe on the grounds of Canadian Mennonite University. It was the second time that week we had bumped into each other. I asked the friend who was with me to take a picture of me with Auntie Millie. When I was a child growing up you didn’t refer to your parents’ friends just by their first name. It wasn’t considered polite. But using their last names seemed too formal so we referred to them as aunts and uncles even though we might not be related to them in any way. Mildred was a dear friend of my mother Dorothy’s so I grew up calling her ‘Auntie Millie’ and I still do.
Auntie Millie and my mother spent their childhoods on farms across the road from each other in Drake Saskatchewan. They went to the same elementary school in Drake, both attended a private Mennonite high school in Rosthern Saskatchewan, and both came to Winnipeg in the late 1940s to attend Canadian Mennonite University. They both married in the early 1950s and had families but always kept in contact with one another.
I just took their relationship for granted as a child but realized as I observed Millie and my Mom near the end of my mother’s life how unique and special it is to maintain a life long friendship like my mother and Millie did.
Auntie Millie is 95 years old and is still very active. She attends an exercise class regularly, goes out with friends for coffee and is pretty savvy with social media. She is my Facebook friend, reads my blog faithfully and often comments on my writings.
Whenever I see her it’s like getting a glimpse of my mother who died in June of 2013 and each time we do Auntie Millie mentions how much she misses my Mom. Seeing Auntie Millie always makes me just a little emotional and makes me miss my mother too, but I am always glad when we meet.