Murdo Girl…Happy birthday dear Aunt

Ella Sanderson Leckey

When I was growing up, and I would say something to Mom like, “I wish Christmas would hurry up and get here, or I can’t wait until I’m 16 so I can drive,” she would always tell me not to wish my life away. I would always say, “You’re right Mom, I hope time drags on forever.” I didn’t really say it, but I thought it.

There were other times when I was going through a situation I felt was hopeless, and she would say, “This too shall pass.”

This morning, I talked to my cousin Valerie, aka Lav, aka Next Vice Pres, and sometimes Queen. She told me today was her Mom’s birthday and she still missed her every single day.

When I think of Aunt Ella, who was my Mom’s sister, as well as Valerie’s Mom, I think about these things.

She was smart, and also wise. I never heard her raise her voice in anger; however she did raise her voice in laughter. She had the Sanderson voice that gets high and squeaky when they talk excitedly or laugh. Mom didn’t have it, but Grandpa, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Wayne, all had it. My brother Billy has it too. It’s a delightful family uniqueness to inherit.

Aunt Ella loved cars. When someone would say they saw “so and so” from out of town, she would say, “What kind of car were they driving?” When we were kids, she drove a 1958 Ford. It was pink. I don’t know if she wanted a pink car or if it just turned out that way. I do know it had nothing to do with Mary Kay.


Aunt Ella was driving her pink car the day she tracked me down at another cousin’s house. Valerie and I had been riding horses and playing rawhide. We’d been herding Aske’s milk cows for most of the day. I left Valerie way out there in the country while I rode bareback to town to pick up some food and supplies. We were having so much fun, we had decided to camp out, which we never would have gotten away with anyway. By the time I got to town, I was no longer in the mood to ride all the way back, so I put my horse up and went to my cousin Mark’s house to play with all the kids there. Shortly thereafter, Aunt Ella drove up in her pink car. She asked me where Valerie was. When I told her she was at Aske’s, she said for me to get in the car, so I could help her find Aske’s. She didn’t get mad, but her voice was a little high and squeaky.

She also loved clothes and she had the figure to wear her favorite styles. Valerie might correct me, but I would describe Aunt Ella’s style as classic. Her clothes were timeless and always appropriate for the occasion. It wasn’t that she bought a ton of clothes, but what she did buy was of the very best quality. I text Valerie an old fuzzy picture of the family Christmas Eve in 1961. I didn’t know who the lady sitting by Aunt Tet was. She said it was her Mom. I doubted it until Val said, “I recognize the dress. She had that dress until the day she died.”

From left: Grandma Sanderson, Great Aunt Tet, and Aunt Ella, Christmas 1961

Mom and Aunt Ella were good friends. They didn’t call South Dakota much, but they called each other daily. They both lived in California, however they didn’t live in the same area code so it was still a long distance call.  I think in their minds they figured since they both lived in California, it was a lot cheaper, if not free to call each other.


Ella with brother Jeff Sanderson Christmas 1961

When Grandpa had one of his four daughter’s with him, and someone said his daughter was a beauty, he would say he had three more just like her at home. He was right.

Mom was speaking the truth when she said not to wish time would pass quickly. When I think about friends, and especially family, who no longer walk this earth, I wish I had appreciated them more. I wish I had told them, (and showed them), I loved them more often. When Mom said, “this too shall pass.” I thought she was only talking about bad times, but good times pass by quickly too. That is the cycle of life.

I still have a beautiful family and wonderful friends to appreciate and love. My step-father, Gus who was married to Mom 38 years, is coming from California to spend Christmas with us. I intend to spend every precious minute I can appreciating and showing that wonderful man how much we love him.

Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ella. Thank you for giving me this message. I really needed it today.

We’ll see you and Mom someday, but in the meantime your daughters are having a pretty great time walking the earth.



10 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…Happy birthday dear Aunt

  1. sanjuan831 December 12, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Your mom and mine were a hoot together even just talking on the phone. / That story about herding milk cows and you riding off leaving me out on the prairie alone never gets old! // My dad felt sorry for a guy he worked with in PA and bought the car from him cause the young man was going to lose the car. Hated the color. At least it wasn’t an Edsel.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary Francis McNinch December 12, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Thanks 07 ..Mom and Aunt Ella were a hoot together, but I don’t think they ever decided to be queens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • scoper07 December 12, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Ah, the new generation Baby Boomers. What else could one say!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. scoper07 December 12, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    A very nice tribute Murdo Girl. Well done and timely

    Liked by 2 people

  4. lifelessons December 12, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    I’ve meant to tell you before how many times I go on reader hoping I can find you post only to find you have just finished posting because you are the first in the queue! I think we are on the same wave length.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 12, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      I have noticed that too! Still working on the DVD..I can’t copy it on my computer. Val has a copy too, so maybe someone where she lives can make a copy. I live in a small low tech lake community. We’ll figure it out. I thought about you when I posted Tet. I’m trying to get stills from the poor quality video for another project.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lifelessons December 12, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    Finally, a picture of Tet! I could not for the life of me remember what she looked like, but it all came zooming back when I saw this photo. She had the best nature! I am so jealous of all your cousins. i didn’t have even one near my age. Enjoyed this, as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. sanjuan831 December 12, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    Yes we are and thank you to our fabulous moms and Thanks to you Murdo Girl
    – dear cousin – for this perfect tribute! Made me get tearful reading it! Wonderful writing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 12, 2016 / 8:54 pm

      Thank you Cuz. It was fun to write though you could have added more stories. We’ll save them for next year.

      Liked by 2 people

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