family · My Thoughts

Three Aunts to Celebrate!

Celebrate my three aunts

I have three aunts in my life who touched me deeply—Dad’s two sisters and Mom’s sister. Each one influenced me in different ways. Meet them here!

Aunt Helen

Aunt Helen and Uncle Gay

Aunt Helen, born October 18, 1919, one year after my dad had a similar close relationship with Dad I have with my brother. We are thirteen months apart.

My brother and Mom have often compared my drive and personality to Aunt Helen. She became a teacher after another career and worked hard to get her master’s degree during the summer for several years.

She lived near Spokane, WA, so I savored those summers because Uncle Gay and she came to Colorado with their twins. Her husband and she went to Alamosa to go to college and left the twins with my grandparents in the town we lived in. Uncle Gay and Aunt Helen visited on the weekends, staying with my grandparents. I idolized her, the way she dressed, her hairstyle and everything about her. A cigarette dangled from her lips often, which was stylish then. I loved having her here for those summer months.

Like her, I changed careers and became a teacher and then got my masters.

Many years passed, and I was fortunate enough at the end of her life to help her and her children. She celebrated holidays with us and my brother’s families, but she was so sick. I helped her and her sons during that time, and always felt it a privilege. Sadly, we lost Aunt Helen at 56 years old, way too young to breathing complications.

Aunt Helen showed me the strength, hard work and determination it took to do what you wanted to do.

Aunt Joan

Aunt Joan

Aunt Joan, born May 29, 1928, joined the Horner family ten years after Dad’s birth. As a young woman, she took to roping and Dad often said she could out rope him any day. When she was the rodeo queen for the Trinidad Rodeo, she did a roping demo before the rodeo that wowed the crowd.

She raised six children and lost one child at birth. Her life centered on her family.

As a child, I interacted little with Aunt Joan because she was busy with her own children, but as an adult, we had many memorable times together. She completely supported my books writing and bought many copies of my books to share with her family.

When she talked to me, she often called me “Rada,” which was a nickname of mine during my childhood—what an endearing act!

In her 90s, Aunt Joan joined us on Zoom during the pandemic and managed it amazingly. She lived a long happy life!

Aunt Joan showed me a genuine delight any time she saw me. I always felt so welcome in her presence.

Aunt Willie

My last picture with Aunt Willie

Aunt Willie, born November 7, 1920, was Mom’s older sister. During my childhood, she and Uncle Hughie lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico (maybe why I ended up there). She retired from Sandia Labs and moved closer to her daughter to Folsom, New Mexico, and lived there for years.

As a child, Uncle Hughie and she spoiled my brother and I—we were her only niece and nephew on her side of the family. Big Kat fireworks for the 4th of July. Many family picnics and times together. They introduced me to fishing, which became a favorite pastime for years!

Again, I was privileged to actively take part in an aunt’s life. At the end of her life, I see her maneuver from this life to the next. I learned from her that assisted living facilities resemble junior high antics. She taught me that a sense of humor doesn’t have to die when you age.

Aunt Willie showed me often her love through words, actions and a twinkle in her eye!


My three powerful aunts throughout my life showed me how to be the woman I am today. I feel fortunate to have been so blessed.

Did you have any aunts in your life that touched you? If so, how?

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