Aunt Stella was a character. I spent most of my early childhood days with her and my Uncle Tuffy and Aunt Alice in their house up on the hill. They weren’t really uncle and aunts, but great uncle and great aunts, a generation ahead of my mom’s. They’d lived through the first and second World Wars, through the depression, the civil rights movement, been there when cars and electricity were still a novelty. They’d seen it all. Tuffy moved to the Sierra Foothills to look for gold in the 30's and many family members followed.

     When Stella was young, she fell in love with a boy, and they were going to be married, but that boy got very sick and passed away. Now I understand why she always told me to go to school and make something of myself before I got married. I also understand why, as a five year old, she would say to me, "Let’s smoke and drink and chase rich men!" Inappropriate, yes, but overall not bad advice.

     Stella drove the wheels off her car for all of us, two generations of children, driving us all over the state of California. She always insisted I tell her the way to go; she said I was "a good navigator" and made me believe it. To keep things lively she would often holler out "Fire on mountain, snakes in the grass, the old man died with a bullet in his ass!"

     Stella was a rare bird. She was a life-changer, a life-saver, and though she had no children of her own, in her own way she was a life-giver. She’s one of those that you keep in your heart forever. You hope that if you can be 1/10th the person she was, then maybe you’ll start to be someone.

     When we moved away she would write to me, ask how I was, ask if I needed any pantyhose ("Always keep your pantyhose on!" she would tell me) and then sign her letter, "Sethers + Love" with a little hand next to it. If she were waving a goodbye in person she would call out "Sethers" or "Sether Books" while holding out her hand in the sign for "love". None of us know where this saying came from or what it means, other than it means that we are loved and will be missed. Just like Stella, we love you and we miss you! "Sethers + Love" til we meet again.

- Rory

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