Was fitting for her to go after the others. For though neither male nor oldest, she was the leader of her siblings.
Certainly, she was toughest, a word Dad used to describe his older sister’s athletic exploits in high school. “Your Aunt Renna Beth was one tough girl,” he would say in a tone that told me he never challenged her authority.
No one did.
Because Aunt Renna Beth meant business, her words when she issued a command to (pick one) her children, nieces, or nephews. “You’re going to take a nap this afternoon and I mean business,” she would say.
At my house afternoon naps were a suggestion. At Aunt Renna Beth’s, they were law. “You kids be still in there; I don’t want to hear a peep, and I mean business.”
We never challenged her.
Well, my brother Craig did once, at youth choir rehearsal, which she conducted weekly at the Methodist Church. Don’t remember what he said or did, but she sent him home—from church—because she meant business.
Renna Beth was a lifelong piano teacher. She taught my cousins. Some (Sheryl and Mary Kate) became quite good. And she taught my kids. And all her students practiced often and hard because, well, you know why.
My aunt mellowed some as she grew older, maybe because life was so hard for her. Uncle Barney died way too young, as did her oldest son, my cousin Rob. And Renna Beth stood at the graves of all four of her siblings.
But she was not morose. She believed she would see them again in a better place.
Neither was she passive. At 90, Aunt Renna Beth still drove. She got out and visited people. She made sure her kids and grandkids were OK. She urged all of us to take care of family.
In short, right up to the end—she meant business.