I have a mellow day with Aunt Vera and Uncle Hal. Harold is so unassuming and quick to smile, I really warm to him. Vera is warm too, but also observant, quick, and selective in what she talks about. Still, I feel her letting her guard down a little as we talk. We ease through breakfast, go on a driving tour of the 20,000-person community of folks over 55, go out for lunch, swim, soak in the jacuzzi. Like last night, I help Vera a bit in the kitchen, which I enjoy.
In the evening we get to what I’m anticipating, the big box of family photos. Lots of great images I’ve not seen, especially of the 1955 family reunion in Bridgewater. Vera is the first person I’ve talked to to mention that Aunt Mary was not invited. She talks quite a bit about Aunt Mary, and has some photos of her. Nothing she says indicates any sort of mental illness, just a sharp, introverted personality and a tendency to collect piles of reading material. She isn’t sure what Aunt Mary got her Master’s in. I think I remember psychology or biology.
Like the other Enss children Vera is aware that Gustav got his Master’s in Philosophy after his stroke in 1938, but knows less about his Master’s and Doctorate from Texas Theological Seminary. She does tell a story about attending a lecture with Harold and his colleagues in Waynesboro, Virginia (Hal actually brought this up). The lecturer was intense and controvertial, drawing comments from Harold’s colleagues. Careful, he told them, that’s my father in law. Unfortunately he doesn’t recall the topic of the lecture.