My only aunt (I have no uncles)

5 August, 2018            My only aunt (I have no uncles)

Me (seated in stroller), my sister Katie, my mom (pushing stroller), her sister Janet (kneeling), and their parents (my grandparents), ~1962

My mother’s younger sister Janet was my only aunt, and I have no uncles. She died on July 13 at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, a couple of months before her eightieth birthday. She became a Catholic nun in 1960, a year before I was born, and that was how I always knew her. She was a Sister of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Her name as a nun was Sister Pauline. And she was a nun for fifty-eight years!

She had this picture in her room. The date on the back says “1962 or 63.” That’s Janet (Sister Pauline) kneeling down and talking to me in the front of the stroller. I’m thinking this was 1962. My older sister Katie is standing behind me on the axle of the stroller. Wearing white shoes. And my mom (Janet’s older sister) is pushing the stroller. Plus my maternal grandparents, all smiles.

Here’s a picture of Janet about 25 years later at my sister Katie’s wedding. That’s Janet (Sister Pauline) on the left, my sister Katie in the middle and her husband Jim on the right. They were married (or possibly had the reception; I don’t recall) at Camp Waredaca in Laytonsville, MD. Where all five of us were campers and counselors while we were growing up.

Janet, Katie, Jim – Camp Waredaca, 1987 – Katie and Jim’s wedding

We never lived far from our grandparents, so whenever Janet would visit them, she’d visit us. She was just perpetually cheerful. Exuberant even – always overflowing with energy.

There was a group of her fellow nuns and friends at The Woods when we were there this week – they were her “Band.” This picture is her Band, with Kevin and me behind them on the left and my sisters Katie and Sheila and Katie’s daughter Cappy on the right. That was the most cheerful group of people I’d been around in a long, long time:

Me, Kevin, Katie, Sheila and Cappy with Janet’s “Band”

Anyway, I’ll put in a few more pictures from our trip, though I didn’t get as many as I would have liked. My niece Cappy took this picture of my sister Sheila and me in The Shell Chapel at Saint Mary of the Woods:

Sheila and me in The Shell Chapel at Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods

I took this picture a moment before, looking out of a stained glass window in the Shell Chapel. See the shells set in the walls to the right and left of the stained glass window?:  

Stained glass window inside Shell Chapel looking out. See the shells on the walls?

There’s a great little article about it here: Shell Shock: the Hidden Wonder of St. Anne’s Chapel

There was a lovely obituary for Sister Pauline (Janet) on the Saint Mary of the Woods home page. There was an interesting passage about how much she loved music, and I was especially touched to read this about her: “As for listening to music, Sister Huong reports that her top choice was “Bridge over Troubled Water.”” If you missed it, I wrote a blog post on May 20 – while she was very much alive – calledBridge over Troubled Water.” It’s sad that I didn’t learn until after she died that I wrote a blog post about “her top choice” – and neither of us knew.

Some may be unaware that I went to Catholic schools from K – 12, except for a couple of years in elementary school. I never took to the religion, but Janet embodied the spirit of all of my favorite teachers. Regarding Catholicism she was – in my estimation – irreverent but respectful.

I’ve been thinking about how to describe all this – I never know what to say. I was thinking about Janet and how cheerful she was and a phrase went through my head. I just checked back at a blog post I wrote after my Mom died. The blog post was on January 22, 2017 and it was called Downstream. I put in a picture of my mom along with a quote from one of her best friends. It was about mom, but it applies perfectly to her sister: ““I never heard her say anything bad about anyone; I never saw her cranky or cross.” – Liz A., 19 January, 2017

Anyway. I’m thinking too much. Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I had a relaxing hike at the river this morning. This is Mackey leading us back. Turner followed Mackey, Yuki followed Turner, I followed Yuki, all four of us made it back: 

You will never get in trouble following Mackey – that dog has an instinct for safety:

Have a great week, all best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to My only aunt (I have no uncles)

  1. Peter Meiller says:

    Jay, thanks for sharing all that in your post

  2. Jackie says:


  3. Jackie says:

    Very sweet, love the shell chapel!

    • Thank you Jackie, it was really fun. We used to visit there intermittently when we were growing up. I ALWAYS remembered the Shell Chapel from when we were very young. It’s just the kind of thing kids find fascinating. I still find it fascinating as an adult! Also really cool that all the shells are from a freshwater river – remarkable. Anyway, thanks again for the comment and have a great day,


  4. Pingback:  “Try to be a little kinder” – Aldous Huxley  | NEWFAZE

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