Happy Birthday to Aunt Norma, Aunt Joyce, Uncle Danny, Uncle Dick and Uncle Raymond!

Today is my great-aunt’s, Norma Barmes-Abbott, 76th birthday, and last week was my Uncle Danny’s birthday. Norma and Danny are Grandpa Leroy’s younger sister and brother. Then, Sunday is my other great-aunt’s, Joyce Clary-Riser, 72nd birthday – and she is my Grandma Donna’s sister (maternal side). The following day, July 25, is my great-great-uncle’s, Raymond Daughterty, 84th birthday. Uncle Dick, a younger brother to Raymond, celebrated his 77th birthday today.

I was fortunate to have a number of wonderful uncles and aunts, and a number of great-great uncles and aunts.

Grandpa Leroy had two sisters, Norma and Evelyn, and a much younger brother, Danny, who is a year older than my mother. Uncle Danny’s 61st birthday was last week and I completely forgot to send him a note! Aunt Evelyn, though loving and pleasant, was always quiet and very reserved, thus making it sometimes difficult in getting to know her. She passed away with cancer around 1994.

Aunt Norma – senior picture

I seemed to know Aunt Norma better, as she had children 12 to 6 years older than me. I use to stay all night with her family and always enjoyed my self. Aunt Norma, still holding on to her red hair, is an absolute riot, and still amazes me with her energy. Several years ago she learned how to use the computer and loves to send Email. I was so impressed that – in her early seventies – she tackled something from which many would shy away. Several years ago, on Christmas Eve, Aunt Norma’s only daughter, Tanya, was stricken with a fatal aneurysm. As my grandparents had in 1987, she tackled the devastating grief of losing a child and evolved into an even stronger, impressive and even wittier (if that was even possible) lady.

Grandma Donna with Aunt Joyce – approx. 1939

Aunt Joyce and my grandmother were a pair! Their father, Grandpa Garrett, was known for his familiar expression, “Those damned girls.” Grandma and Aunt Joyce were always up to the best practical jokes, and God knows this trait was in the family long before them, and has not strayed far from our current generation. Aunt Joyce had her daughters a little later in life, and my cousins, Kim and Debbie, both beautiful women today, are two and six years younger than me. They always seemed more like my first cousins rather than my mother’s first cousins. As children we spent so much time together. Both Kim and Debbie were in band, and Debbie went to Ball State. Kim lives in Florida and has two grown children, and Debbie, who lives in Alexandria, Indiana, has two younger children – and her daughter, like my nephew, Andrew, has acquired every ounce of orneriness that our gene pool can muster. Aunt Joyce is the same heighth Grandma was – 4′-11″. My boys loved the fact they tower over her. Aunt Joyce is so much like my grandmother and it gives my sons a chance to know what their great-grandmother must have been like.

Uncle Danny with my mother around 1950.

Uncle Danny is an absolute riot. He is the very spirit of his father, my great-grandfather, Virgil Barmes. Uncle Danny married Bonnie in the late 60’s, and they have three children, Dana, who lives in Lynn, Indiana with her husband, Chris, and two sons; Daniel Jason, who with his wife, Jamie, lives in or near Cicero with their son, and are expecting a new baby in August; and Dama, who lives with her husband, Jeff, near Lapel, was married October 2004. Because Uncle Danny is my mother’s age, he always seemed more like her brother than her uncle. Last Friday while I was digging through files on family birth records in Madison County, an eployee, while chatting, discovered he knew Uncle Danny – his father worked with him. “Man, you must have the sorest sides from laughing when you are around your Uncle Dan.”

Uncle Raymond & Aunt Betty – approx. 1940

Uncle Raymond is a younger brother to my great-grandmother, Thelma Daugherty-Barmes, and he is only three months older than my grandfather – his nephew. Uncle Raymond married one of the most delightful spirits I have ever known. Aunt Betty grew up and was good friends with my grandmother in Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana. Raymond and Betty were one of the first guests to visit my mother when she was born, and then in 1964, they and their son, Steve, were one of the first to visit me. July 25th, 2002, I met my son Matthew for the first time in San Antonio, Texas and decided that Uncle Raymond & Aunt Betty – now living in Houston – should be the first of my family to meet Matthew – thus completing three generations. Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty are two of the dearest, kindest souls and I feel blessed that they too were part of the village who had a hand in molding me. Their son, Steve, went to Ball State and majored in communications, the same time David Letterman was there. Steve went on to a fantastic career in radio and television, even hosting his own week day television show. Faithfully, every morning – I woke up much earlier than needed – to watch my cousin.

Uncle Dick and his nephew, Jimmy Daugherty

Uncle Dick lived nearby in Alexandria and owned “Dor-tee’s Ice Cream Stand” – an Alexandria landmark. We use to drive over frequently to Alexandria to get ice cream. Uncle Dick married Anita Gaither, and they had Stan and Jill. Stan was my high school math teacher, and the basketball coach. I was not a very good math student but he showed me more about teaching – every student learns differently and you must be prepared with several routes for any new concept. Stan went on to Anderson College and then on to Goshen College where he is the basketball coach. Uncle Dick is so much like the Daugherty men – extremely kind and a genlte spirit. He has been experiencing some health issues recently and I hope he enjoyed a great birthday.

So this week, it is time to send out cards, make a few telephone calls and cherish the special folks in my family.