My Aunt Zoie…Daughter of the South

In the last year, two daughters of the South who helped influence who I am have passed away. Helen Gooding Youmans, and my mother’s youngest sister, Mary Elizabeth Funchess Wright. Miss Helen was a neighbor and mother of my good friend Karen. Aunt Mary Beth was mother to my only two female cousins, Nancy and Gail. My cousin Gail, just a year and a half or so older than I, recently passed away also.

But this post isn’t about them. I mention them though, because when you reach a certain age and people who helped you evolve into who you are go on to their great reward, you stop. And you think.And you smile and laugh and feel a bit melancholy. Then you think some more and smile and feel all warm and fuzzy.

My Aunt Zoie, daddy’s only sister,  was born in 1913 and passed away in 1994. She was a pistol. She didn’t marry until she was 40 years old and had a great big wedding in the Methodist Church with eight bridesmaids and a whole lot of tulle. Her groom, Frank, was seven years younger. I can’t put my hands on the wedding pictures just this minute.

My brother and I were the only grandchildren on daddy’s side of the family and Zoie was better than Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all put together. When I went away to college, she began purchase whole outfits for me from The Frock Shop, then took me to Bob Ellis Shoe Store on King Street for shoes. That is the ONLY place she bought shoes as she wore a very narrow size 11 shoe.

She joined the Army in 1942. She was dedicated…probably obsessed…with the Eastern Star and she and daddy were the first brother and sister Worthy Grand Matron and Patron for South Carolina in 1964. I was the Grand Chapter Sweetheart!

If she knew that a family was in distress, she would sneak up to their house and leave groceries on the porch. She sang in the choir in the church she grew up in and was married in. And she loved her family fiercely.

In the late 1980’s, Frank had passed away, as had her brothers, and Alzheimer’s started to cast a shadow over her world. I became her guardian and conservator and thus began the tough years. But we aren’t going to talk about those, other than to say that she REALLY got wonky with the make-up the last year or two. Refer to the last photograph below.

To know her was to love her. She was one formidable woman, this daughter of the south.

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