Most people bring flowers to the graveside at a funeral.
When my Great Aunt left us a few years back, my 30 year old daughter adorned her graveside with a bouquet of rhubarb! This is the story of how Auntie Rhubarb got her name.
Sunshine and love filled my Great Aunt’s vibrant back yard on that warm sunny day back in 1982.
Her weed-free, always flourishing garden spanned the huge yard from the grassy area behind the house – all the way to the back alley, on both sides of the concrete path.
Row upon row of dark mounded soil produced a canvas of her gardening handiwork – potatoes, turnips, string beans, carrots, onions, pea pods, cauliflower, and broccoli.
The glorious smells of summer were abundant, and butterflies sparkled in the sunbeams.
The vibrant afternoon was filled with joyous laughter and the chitter chatter of my curious, talkative first-born – her two-year old great-great-niece.
With wide-eyed toddler curiosity, she wandering down the pathway and into the rows of tall sun-stretched plants, Auntie guiding her from one to another, encouraging her to sample this veggie and that berry.
And what first-time garden exploration is complete without some crunchy oh-so-tart rhubarb?
So Great-Auntie Barbara went into the house and brought out a bowl of white granulated sugar and some thinly sliced stalks of rhubarb.
We watched and giggled with each bite, as my little daughter’s face squished itself into that quivering reaction only sour rhubarb, no matter how much sugar, can incite.
More visiting, some iced tea and cookies, our bellies and hearts full… it was time to go.
“Say good-bye and thank-you to Auntie Barb” I prompted gently.
With the hesitation of a young learner, her petite little hand began waving good-bye, and she sang out “Bye-bye, thank-you Auntie Rhu-barb!”
Auntie “Rhubarb” howled! Her belly laugh was contagious and we all enjoyed the innocent confusion.
And it stuck!
Many other great-great-nieces and nephews were born after my eldest. Everyone of them endearingly called her “Auntie Rhubarb.” It just became her name.