‘Aunt Matt’ was last link of an era

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, May 18, 2017


er name was Mattie Lee Bell Willoughby. To me, she was just Aunt Matt. To those reading this, she was just somebody’s aunt.

I hope to change all that by the time you finish reading.

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To my cousins, my siblings and myself, “Aunt Matt” conjures up so many memories of a tough, strong, beautiful woman who withstood many challenges in her life. She was so much to our family.

We all knew she was the last link to our parents and our childhood, all the way into our adult years, and would be forever gone except through our memories. Our memories of her are many.

She was a beautiful woman who never got to get too far from her farm in Bath County.

She really didn’t care much about the worldly things. She learned all she needed to know through her television set. She could discuss nearly any subject with you, however, and be knowledgeable about it.

For Aunt Matt, she had what she needed in life. She had her eight children and lots of friends who loved her. To her, that was all she ever needed. She taught us a lesson through that.

There was one thing Aunt Matt did love, and that was her makeup. When she did go out in to the world, she put her makeup on. I was told the last picture taken of her on Sunday, her daughter wanted her makeup on her and she reminded them to put her lipstick on. However, she was not a vain woman.

Aunt Matt never needed makeup to be beautiful to all of us, since her beauty came from within. When you met her or went to see her, she always made you feel welcome and happy that you took your time to come and see her. You were immediately asked if you were hungry or needed a drink. You seldom left from there without something Aunt Matt had given you. It could be apples, tomatoes or any kind of food that was available from her garden. She was a giving person.

Once during a hot summer afternoon on a visit to see her, we were offered ice cream. It sounded good to enjoy with her so we said yes. We were amazed, however. when she returned from inside with the ice cream. She brought it out in  serving bowls full of ice cream instead of small dessert bowls. You see, that was just how Aunt Matt was. Her heart was so big and she was always ready to give you more. And she did.

This woman was the rock and the glue that always held her eight children together. She has weathered so many storms in her life that most women would have given up and quit trying to see another day. Not Aunt Matt.

She was tough and even a pipeline explosion that left scars on her and her children for life could not get her down. If she was down, you never knew it when you went to see her because she could always lift you up. That is why today, I want to lift her up.

Aunt Matt, there is no doubt in my mind where you are today. I just know that you are walking on streets of gold and have jewels in your crown because no one deserves them more than you.

You gave us all memories to linger and each time we think of you, it is with a smile on our face. You taught us that things of this world are not what is important, but love for one another is utmost. You showed us how to give it.

God took you on Mother’s Day. It could have been to remind the world how you were a mother to so many through your encouragement during sad times and always there when we were ready to ask questions.

Thanks for your lessons in your unassuming way.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.