For My Aunt Doris
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
As a young girl, I spent a lot of time with my cousins Melissa and Timothy. Some times we played at our Grandmother Sarah’s house in Moss Point, Miss., other times at their house, also in Moss Point. There were times when we chatted on the phone about whatever young kids who are fascinated with talking on the phone talk about. I remember in particular Timothy and I talking about the latest episode of T.J. Hooker, a show we both enjoyed.
Later, Mom and I moved to Biloxi and then to Atlanta, and they moved to Tulsa. My Uncle Kenneth moved the family there at God’s instruction for a ministry assignment; our visits dwindled to zero because of the miles that separated us. I always thought of them, though, and as I matured, I longed for them and our childhood romps and giggles. Those years escaped us far too quickly…
Uncle Kenneth is my Mom’s younger brother. She always had a special affinity for him, and always spoke admiringly of him. It was no coincidence that I also cherished and admired him. He was a strong and steady presence in my earliest memories. I remember when he and some of his friends from our then family church put my swing set together. I remember he and my Aunt Doris as a young couple. She was an immediate memorable presence in our family. I remember her family-famous carrot-and-raisin salad. I joked with her several years ago that it seems as though that was the only dish she knew how to make. That wasn’t true of course, but I had fun teasing her and we had a good laugh about it.
I didn’t pay attention to their marriage, not then. I was too preoccupied with climbing trees, displacing crayfish from their mud homes, and all the other activities that come with being a tomboy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Even as a young adult, marriage was not on my mind. Years later, though, when I was a young woman who desired marriage, wondering when it would come and what it would look like, I began to look at them–Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Doris–very differently. I noted that Aunt Doris was my Uncle’s partner in ministry. He adored her, and she him. Their mutual adoration was written all over their interactions with one another. Neither had to say so, you just felt it. I saw her pour out love, encouragement, support, and wisdom on Uncle Kenneth and my cousins. After Melissa and Timothy, there was Marcus and Sarah Elizabeth. She home-schooled my cousins, and they are each bright, successful, God-chasing adults.
There is one memory I have of Aunt Doris that is deeply engraved in my mind. I remember I was visiting them once, after they had moved back to Mississippi, and she was speaking about baking. She was telling me about my Uncle Kenneth’s severe case of sweet tooth, and she talked about how much she enjoyed surprising him with treats. I can’t remember what she said his favorite dessert was. It might have been a special cookie recipe that she created, I am not sure; but I remember the smile she had on her face as she popped around the kitchen talking about baking for him. She was giddy talking about my uncle, and it melted my heart.
“Some times I surprise him, and when he comes home I tell him, “Honey, I made you a happy.”
I made you a happy. I will never forget that. Such a purely, unmotivated gesture to show her husband, her partner, how much she loved him. I remember thinking, “Wow. How sweet. I want that. One day.”
Aunt Doris went home last year. I am thinking of Uncle Kenneth, Melissa, Timothy, Marcus, and Sarah Elizabeth on their first Mother’s Day without her. She and my uncle were married for nearly 40 years. I loved her. That didn’t diminish with distance or adulthood. It’s not the quantity of moments, but the quality that most matters. I miss her. I miss my Aunt. I am thankful for our time together, for her presence and the mark she left on me, in my heart. I am grateful, too, for the Godly example of marriage she and Uncle Kenneth displayed for, not only their children and me, but many others, for nearly as long as I’ve been breathing. One day, when God says it’s time, I’ll make my husband a happy, too.
I trust Aunt Doris is having a grand time in the Kingdom, and is popping around donning a jeweled crown waiting for my Uncle Kenneth, waiting to “make him a happy.”