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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

Lou Ella

My father had an aunt named Lou Ella. She was the eldest of five children, the rest of them boys.


She was born in 1913 near Barnum, Iowa. After the death of her mother, Lou Ella cared for her father--and continued to lovingly care about several generations of our family. When my sisters and I were little, we would sometimes have a 'slumber party' at her house. In the morning, she would make us heart shaped waffles with special syrup (special in that we did not have that kind at home). We would make crafts and sometimes go on little day adventures. She was the first person to ever take me to a McDonald's restaurant, which my parents refused to do (and still would to this day, and I am 44, so it was very special to me at the time). She was very kind, and I still remember the playful smile she displayed every so often. She was 60 years my senior and in all things very proper, but when she smiled like that I took it as a secret code to a little girl from a vintage little girl.


When I was a young adult, I would sometimes go to her house on a Sunday afternoon to visit. She talked about her garden club, her church projects, and her sewing projects. We would also look at old photos, and she would tell me stories. Eventually she began to ask visitors if we would write the information on the backs of the photos. So that after she was gone, others would know who these people were.


Lou Ella Kaufman died in 2002 at the age of 89. On the day that would have been her 100th birthday, my eldest sister and I got together, lit some candles, and enjoyed birthday cupcakes in her honor. My sister continues to text me every January 13 to remind me to wish Aunt Lou Ella a happy birthday.


I remember our Aunt Lou Ella dearly. I'm like her in that I have a plant in every room of my house and am very concerned about their wellbeing. I always have several sewing projects in progress--some of which are stashed in the antique sewing stand she gave to me. I'm the aunt who took the kids to McDonalds and sent them $2 in a card for holidays. She and I both took care of lots of children but didn't have our own. I am unlike her in that she had patience and a caregiver's spirit for nearly nine decades; mine died an early death, but I now tend to our ancestors.


I have this photo of her in my office. I need to remember to write her name on the back. And the thing about the waffles. And the loving kindness. So that someday, others can know who she was.

Photo: My grandpa's "Sis" around 1921.

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