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A Tribute to an Awesome Aunt

June 17, 2013
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Yesterday, I heard that my Aunt June died. She had been on Hospice and this was not unexpected. However, death has a weight of finality. When someone you love dies, one gets the feeling that the world should stop – take a solemn moment – remember one who has walked this earth and touched our lives. How can all of you people just go to work on Monday and not pay your respects to June Easter?

I’d like to honor my Aunt with a brief reflection. Words cannot capture the fullness of her life. She gave birth to five children and ‘mothered’ many more.

The Easter home was my second home growing up. Aunt June blessed my palate with a unique array of food. She set the gold standard for cinnamon rolls. That is too ordinary of a name for the pastry she produced. She put the ‘sticky’ in sticky buns. Most of the butter and brown sugar in town on a Saturday night ended up in the bottom of the pan for the gooey part of her cinnamon rolls. They were meticulously produced in an all-day affair of mixing, rising, kneading, rising, kneading, rolling, spreading butter and cinnamon, and baking. In addition to this, her farm upbringing trained her to cook ‘large’. Lots of big meals: meat, potatoes and gravy, vegetables, and bread. AND dessert – sour cream pie, cherry pie with lattice top crusts, and Rice Krispy treats. Somewhere she came across a quick dinner favorite of grated spam and grated cheese mixed with catsup, spread thick on a half a hamburger bun, and grilled under the broiler – lethal, but delightful to young taste buds.

lawn chairWhile the kitchen was memorable, it did not define the extent of her accomplishments. She was the one teaching us how to raise a garden with a lush and abundant variety of vegetables. She was the crew boss for the cousins who were willing to brave the hop yards and arch hops in the spring. She was the little league taxi bringing Kenny, Adrian, Mel and me to practice in Moxee City and games all over the Yakima Valley. She was a tailgater before it was sanctioned sport. Those luxurious lawn chairs and a cooler full of food marked nearly every YMCA game for years with the Moxee Beavers.

She was the soprano in the Assink family quartet that sang at the First Reformed Church. She was one of the pillars of the TWO WEEK Vacation Bible School every summer at church. She was the pew mom with Life Savers for all the children whose parents sang in the choir. She served selflessly in the kitchen for Ice Cream Socials, Baked Potato feeds, Soup Suppers at the Bazaar, and countless receptions for families gathered in the church fellowship hall.

One of her sons died as an infant. While I never recall it showing outwardly, I can’t imagine one with such a heart for children that didn’t carry a private grief.

While these memories makes obvious why I think the world should stop and pay their respects to a great woman, this is not her best. The best fruit of her life is that all her children walk with Jesus.

I don’t think Aunt June topped 5’, but there is no doubt that she stood tall in our lives!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Teusink permalink
    June 18, 2013 5:41 PM

    A beautiful tribute, Phil, for a beautiful Christian woman. I’ll never forget her smile and energy and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have regular access to her cooking or I’d weigh 500#. I do remember great food she brought to First Reformed Church potlucks. How great to know that she’s not dead but is alive in Christ. I look forward to spending time with many Assinks in heaven!

  2. June 18, 2013 9:04 PM

    Phil, I hope you enjoyed writing this as much as I enjoyed reading it 🙂

  3. Mel Easter permalink
    June 19, 2013 11:25 AM

    Phil – thanks soooo much for that wonderful and heart-filled tribute to our Mom. My tears are still flowing!

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