My aunt – her name was Veronica, but she was Vera to all of us – had been dealing with declining health for quite some time. When I got the news from my Mom yesterday she’d told me that Vera was dealing with ongoing medical problems including a considerable history of difficulties with cardiac function. I don’t know all of the details, as I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I didn’t keep contact with her (I think the last time I saw her was probably 15 years ago), but I know that she’d been hospitalized recently.
Vera was a good person. She was honest. She was not afraid to speak her mind, and she definitely had no trouble calling things as she saw them. She had a wonderful sense of humor and she was a natural storyteller. And she had an interesting history: she was born in Liverpool, England and came to the United States as a young woman. Her sister and father also found their way to this country as well, and I remember as a small child seeing both of them regularly make appearances at their home. She was married to my father’s brother, my uncle Johnny, and they had two sons, my cousins John and Barry. They lived in Billerica, Massachusetts.
I remember that we did a lot of things with them when I was young. Our families camped together. I got to tag along on fishing trips. There were a lot of trips to the beach.
She and my uncle, in addition to raising their sons, also raised their nephew, Alan. He ended up orphaned when his mother died, and Vera and Johnny took him into their home. As I recall, that was an act of great love on their part, not to mention courage. We used to play together as kids, and I can’t even remember all of the trouble we got into. That aside, they raised him right as he turned out to be a really fine man. He lives in Texas, and I imagine I will get to see him, as well as my cousins, sometime in the next few days.
Some things changed when Johnny, my uncle, got sick. Cancer. Throat and esophageal cancer that metastasized into his lungs. He died in 1972 at the age of 50. Likely due to heavy smoking. Left Vera to raise Alan single-handedly as well as keep up with her sons. Barry deals with nuclear reactors for a living and lives in Virginia. John stayed my aunt, running her house, helping her with Alan, and ultimately taking care of her when she became infirm.
I have to correct something I'd originally mentioned, mostly due to too much to sort out in my memory. I had thought that my uncle had worked in the nuclear industry, but I was wrong about that; he worked as a machinist. I have to thank Barry for correcting me on that because it is an important point. Recounting history, no matter whose it is, needs to be as accurate as possible. Otherwise, what is the point? And, as I said, it's important. At least to me, and I suspect to my family as well. And I try to do them justice.
The last time I saw her, as I said, was probably 15 years ago. I had an opportunity to stop in at her house as I was driving through Billerica. And I’m glad I did as we had a really nice visit. What I remember about that conversation, though, is that I learned things about my Dad’s family that I didn’t know. It was during that visit that I figured out how much of a wealth of knowledge she had about my grandparents and their upbringing.
It definitely makes me wish I’d kept in closer touch with her.
Now, at least, she is in a place where she is at peace, is not dealing with the indignity of old age and ill health, and hopefully is reunited with her husband.
Rest in peace, Aunt Vera.
Veronica (Timewell) Trachim
July 13, 1922 - June 19, 2010
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord
And let Perpetual Light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.