November 3rd is Aunt Kiddy’s birthday. She was born 108 years ago, and she has been in heaven almost twenty years now. At the tender age of sixteen, she left her family and her home in a small coal mining town to enter nursing school in the big city of Baltimore. She was the second of five children in her family. Her older sibling was twenty-one, married, and in her own home. Her youngest sister, my mother, was four. Can you fathom the enthusiasm, courage, and determination Kiddy must have had to make such a leap? In 1924?
Her given name was Arrietta Kidwell (pronounced ah-Ret’-tah). In nursing school, she said all the students called each other by just their last names – with no “Miss” or “Mrs.” in front of it. One of her classmates nicknamed her “Kiddy” – and it stuck! Soon, she met her future husband, and he always called her Kiddy, and that became her name in the world.
While my sister and I were growing up in Virginia, it was a precious treat to visit Aunt Kiddy and Uncle Mace in their suburban Baltimore home. Their warmth, compassion, strength, and generosity were infinite – as well as contagious. Their legacies of love live on. Even though she has been gone twenty and he forty-two years, they are ever in my heart and in all the hearts of those who knew them.
Endless hugs of gratitude and love to both of you, Aunt Kiddy & Uncle Mace.
[Photos: Her 85th birthday, 1993; July 4, 1972, in their backyard; July, 1938, somewhere in Canada]