brain cancer

As my Aunt Deloris Johnson’s birthday approached, I wanted to get a different aspect of the woman who was my aunt, and who we lost so long ago to brain cancer. So, I contacted her oldest child, Ellen Bremner to ask her for her memories of her mom. Some of what she told me, I knew, of course, but some of the things she told me were new to me, because they were treasures from her daughter’s heart.

Aunt Deloris, like most of the Byer family to which she was born, was always late. That fact drove her kids crazy. Most of my grandparents George and Hattie Byer’s grandchildren could relate to that fact. The family had a running joke, that our parents operated on Byer Time, and they were always at least half an hour late. Nevertheless Aunt Dee, as we all called her, tried her hardest to be on time, even attaching a watch to her running shoes so she could keep track of time while working. Her second child, Elmer Johnson, always said that she was the true inventor of the “shoe watch.” Nevertheless, time was a concept that always eluded her, and the shoe watch did nothing to change that.

Aunt Dee loved red lipstick, a part of the time she grew up in I’m sure, because my mother, her sister, Collene Spencer wort red lipstick a lot too. Most of the kids of my generation went much lighter with our lipstick, although the darker colors are back now. Aunt Dee loved black coffee, and as I recall, drank it all day long. Black coffee is a little much for me, and I always use cream in mine. She also loved sweets, except candy, which she never ate. She grew up in a household of singing, and loved to sing all her life, her favorite songs being ballads, most of them sad songs that made her children cry.

Ellen told me that her mom was a real germaphobe when they were young, and I found myself thinking that she would have been on the cutting edge of situations like the Coronavirus Pandemic, already doing what needed to be done to fight the virus. Ellen said that she bleached and Lysoled everything, to make sure that the germs didn’t take hold in her home, and she used the many home remedies she knew to keep her family healthy. Aunt Dee was a caring, sensitive, loyal, and loving person. Her family and her husband, Uncle Elmer Johnson, whom she loved deeply, were her life, and she protected her children at all costs. She loved each of them equally. Her own fear of the water, caused her to decide that her children would not take swimming lessons…something she may have softened on after the two oldest children. Aunt Dee was a very good cook, even though it was not her favorite thing…I can relate to that. Nevertheless, she learned a lot about cooking from her mother-in-law, and added that to what her mom had taught her to make her an excellent cook.

She had an altruistic and caring heart, and hated injustice, a fact that inspired her daughter, Ellen to choose service oriented work. Aunt Dee was a dreamer, and a bit of an artist. She loved crafts, painting, and knitting, and indulged in these pastimes whenever money allowed. She was a collector, which went along well with the craft idea, but like most of us, who are collectors, thinking we will “find a use for such an item” down the road, it can create clutter. Still, I bet she had some very cool things in her stash.

Ellen tells me, “Mom had so many plans for her retirement years! So many things she wanted to do and try! She wasn’t afraid to challenge herself in her later years. It broke her heart when she realized that her dreams would not come to fruition. But she left this world knowing she was loved, and telling her family how much she loved them. We miss her quirky, generous, loving, dreamers heart and soul!” As do we, her extended family. She was a wonderful woman, and a very special aunt to all of us. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.

My aunt, Deloris Johnson, lovingly know to all of us a Aunt Dee was one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. She could also be very protective of those she cared about too, however. She was very protective of her siblings, when she needed to be, but she really liked teaching them things, or buying them things that would be fun for the whole family. Things like the piano that was in my grandparents house for as long as I can remember. Lots of the kids “played” that piano at one time or another. Of course, none of us took lessons, so when I say “played” the piano, I use the term loosely. Nevertheless, I think Aunt Dee played it pretty well.

She was always helping her younger siblings to try new things. “Flying” in the wind, using a coat for wings, was a favorite for Aunt Dee, and the other children too. My mother, Collene Spencer, younger sister of Aunt Dee told me about how much fun they had when Aunt Dee was involved in the activities. I think it was all about the great imagination Aunt Dee possessed. When one of the kids has enough imagination to create fun situations, everyone involved has a great time. That fun person was Aunt Dee. She was the one that made everyone laugh, and I know that from the time she spent with our family. It was always fun to have Aunt Dee come over to our house. Her sweet smile put a smile on everyone’s face.

When we lost Aunt Dee to brain cancer in 1996, her passing left a hole in our hearts. My mom especially felt it, because they were really close. I can’t begin to imagine how much he passing saddened my mom. I can only say how sad it made me. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

My Aunt Delores Johnson was always a sweet, kind, loving, and sincerely genuine person. She loved her family, and she made sure they knew it. From her young years she was a joy to her parents and to her siblings, always finding ways to make them laugh. This endeared her to them for the rest of her life.

Aunt Dee, as she was always known to most people, liked sweet rolls. When she was sick, and didn’t feel like eating, of course, the sweet rolls were not something she could handle, so when she finally asked for sweet rolls, it was a great relief, because it meant that she was getting better. I’m sure that sweet rolls were offered to her when she was sick, in the hope that she would want them, thus indicating that she was on the mend.

Aunt Dee loved kids and never spoke a harsh word to any of us…at least not to her nieces and nephews. I can’t speak to how she might have been if one of her four children, Ellen, Elmer, Darla, or Delwin were in trouble, but then what parent hasn’t yelled at their child at one point or another. Nevertheless, her children always knew how much she loved them, as did all of her nieces and nephews.

Aunt Dee and my mother, Collene Spencer, who was her younger sister, were good friends, on top of being sisters. They just liked spending time together, and I can’t help but think that they are having a great time in Heaven, along with their husbands, Elmer Johnson, and my dad Allen Spencer; their parents, George and Hattie Byer; siblings, Evelyn Hushman and Larry Byer, as well as brothers-in-law, Jack McDaniels and Bill Beadle. I’m sure there’s a lot of laughter going on, because that’s the kind of thing that always happens when Aunt Dee is around. There is joy in Heaven because they are all together again. Personally, I can’t wait to get there myself, to see them all again.

Aunt Dee always had something nice to say. Like everyone in this life, Aunt Dee had her share of storms, but she weathered them all, and was still always kind to the underdog. She was a very good-hearted woman, and we all loved her very much. In 1996, Aunt Dee was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. This time there would be no request for sweet rolls to set at ease the minds of all who loved her. Aunt Dee passed away on October 6, 1996, and I still can’t believe she is gone. I miss her sweet smile and her joyful ways. Today would have been her 87th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

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