A Lady of Influence

Aunt Willie Mae Bridges Mounts

Yesterday was my Dad’s 85th birthday, and my Aunt’s 79th birthday. Yep, that’s right, Aunt Willie was born on my dad’s 6th birthday. He always joked that he wanted a puppy for his birthday and got a sister instead. The two of them, along with their other two brothers, were as close as siblings living in four different states could be.

They all grew up in the tiny farming town of Carthage, in northern central Mississippi. It is beautiful country, and the old farm house and barn structures are still standing and being used. Of course, it now has electricity and indoor plumbing! The fields and cow pastures are leased out to local farmers.

Life took the four siblings in different directions and scattered them to California, Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi. Family reunions were always a barrel of laughs. It was fun to get together and play with all of our cousins, and life in Mississippi was so very different from California life. There were four of us girls that were all within three years of each other, and we would have a blast at Grandma’s house.

The doors all had skeleton key locks, and we would find really cool old things to play with. One of the things we had a lot of fun with was a porcelain doll with red painted fingernails and toenails. We called this doll Bloody Bones and would scare each other with the doll. The doll would be thrown into bedrooms or go sliding down the wooden floored hallway banging into walls while we screamed. Sometimes we would give her such a shove that she would end up in the living room with the adults, and we would have to go running in there screaming and laughing to retrieve Bloody Bones. We didn’t know until years later that Bloody Bones was actually one of our aunt’s most prized possessions as a child, and that she had painted her nails to make her fashionable.

Aunt Willie (her name was Willie Mae, her parents names squished together Willie and Lily Mae) was a hoot. She always had a big beautiful smile, a bubbly personality, and laughter on her lips. She was my favorite aunt. She worked as a flight attendant in her early years, where she met and married her husband, Uncle French. They settled in Ohio, where she went to work for the Quaker Oats company as an executive secretary until she retired.

After she retired at age 62, Aunt Willie decided to go to college. She graduated with a Master Degree 5 years later, Magna Cum Laude. She was an inspiration and an amazing woman.

Aunt Willie always made her nieces and nephews feel special and well-loved, even from clear across the country. You could always call and talk to her for how ever long you wanted. We had several hour long phone calls (maybe longer sometimes). She was there for us no matter what.

For the past 10-years, Aunt Willie has been struggling with pancreatic cancer. She always kept an upbeat and positive outlook. Yesterday, I called to wish her a happy 79th birthday. Her granddaughter answered the telephone. I had missed Aunt Willie by 45 minutes. This lovely, fun, and amazing woman had peacefully fallen asleep and gone to heaven. She will be missed by so many. Memories of Aunt Willie are and will be forever cherished.

~Lorelai

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34 Responses to A Lady of Influence

  1. Oh Lorelai-I’m so sorry to hear about your Aunt Willie. What a lovely woman who was so well loved. That’s how I want to be remembered by my family. You were both blessed to have each other in your lives.

  2. Rebecca says:

    It sounds like she left an amazing legacy for all those who were blessed to know her. As wonderful it is to live a life well it never is easy to lose those you love. My sincerest condolences. May God Bless and comfort you until the glorious day you’re reunited in eternity.

  3. DurangoCODeals says:

    Lorelai so so sorry to hear about your Aunt. She sounded like an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing her legacy with us.

  4. Karen says:

    So to hear about the passing of your special Aunt Willie. Thinking of you n sending my condolos to u n ur family.

  5. I’m so sorry. What a beautiful woman. I’ve not heard of many people who retired and then went back to school to get a master’s degree! What was her master’s in? Did she start a whole new career? It sounds as though she left quite a legacy in your family and her strength of spirit, her kindness and compassion and wit will continue on through all of you.

  6. Sarah says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your Aunt. She sounds like an amazing woman and such an inspiration. You will be in my thoughts.

  7. Beautifully written. What wonderful memories you have of your Aunt. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  8. reginapartain says:

    Lorelai. What a beautiful story, and sounds like a beautiful lady. I am so sorry that you missed saying goodbye to her. But it does sound like her passing was very peaceful. Thank you so much for sharing this heartwarming story of your Aunt Willie with us.

  9. So sorry for your loss! But what beautiful memories to cherish. I was blessed by just reading about her, thank you for sharing!

  10. anallievent says:

    What a beautiful story about your aunt! I love reading (and writing) about family history. Your aunt must have been a truly remarkable woman. So sorry for your loss! I know her legacy will live on in the lives of her family. Thanks for sharing her with us!

  11. Sorry for your loss, but so happy you have those memories.

  12. What a beautiful lady! I’m so very sorry for your loss 😦 My prayers are with your family!

  13. adelien says:

    Oh Lorelai, I am sorry to hearing about your aunt. She sounds a great and wonderful lady. You must be very upset of missing her. She should have rest in peace…You write about her beautifully

  14. Your Aunt Willie is an amazing woman! I’m so sorry to hear of her passing and just missing her. My own dear aunt died from pancreatic cancer several years back. It’s so hard to have these bright women taken from our lives. I loved that y’all threw her doll around and she never said anything about it being her prized possession. What a sweetheart.

    • It was really a shocker when we found out the true nature of Bloody Bones. We couldn’t believe Aunt Willie hadn’t said anything. And what was really surprising is that we never once broke the doll. I’m sorry to hear about your aunt, Rochelle, but we have great memories!

  15. Very sorry for your loss Lorelai, she was beautiful and I’m sure she is even more now that she is in peace, no pain and in Heaven! We are sadden by the news given to us last week by a good friend of the family who got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and at his 47 yo is saying goodbye to all of us because he doesn’t have much time left. I pray for strength for you and your family. Lizy

    • Sorry to hear about your friend, Lizy. When my aunt was diagnosed they told her she probably had about 6 months left, she lived another 10 years plus! I wish the best for your friend and offer prayers up for all of you. Thanks for your kind words.

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