My Aunt Jinx was family in every way but blood. She was my mom’s oldest and closest friend, although actually she was my aunt’s friend first; Mom was the youngest of the trio. Still, the three of them were thick as thieves and stayed close all their lives. Here they are about 1944 and again forty years later at my brother’s wedding:
Virginia Wight King was passionate about her family, her faith, and her friends. She and my mom cleverly managed to live very close to each other as young married couples raising families in 1950’s New Jersey. I grew up thinking that her daughters were blood relatives and was so happy to have girl cousins to play with. I still consider them to be family.
Aunt Jinx was my godmother, a responsibility she took seriously all her life. I was baptized in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newark, the same church where my parents were married and my mom was both baptized and confirmed. Aunt Jinx pledged to see me make my confirmation before a bishop and never felt that my Presbyterian confirmation counted in quite the same way, so she was thrilled when I decided to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church during my senior year in college. She sent me a prayerbook and a long, thoughtful letter about how much her faith meant to her during hard times. I’ve kept it for 40 years because it really spoke to me about who she was as a spiritual person and my godmother, about what her faith meant to her and how she lived out her life.
She was passionate about education and taught English at Monmouth College for years. Sometimes I would worry about grammar and punctuation when I wrote her, but being in touch was more important than being completely correct – I hoped. She would remind all of us to “Be a Lady” or “Be a Gentleman” whenever she closed a conversation, especially in her wonderful letters. We still say it with a smile and remember her when we do.
Aunt Jinx also had a wicked sense of humor and a rich, wonderful, smoky laugh. I can picture her with my mom sitting over endless cups of coffee and cigarettes, talking and laughing for hours. Her daughter Carol and I did the same in England years later over cups of tea (and minus the cigarettes, at least for me). We are a second generation of shared history and memories. I will remember her always, though, at Manasquan.
The last time I saw her was, at my grandfather’s funeral in 1983. She was local to him and proudly introduced me to her parish priest, who conducted the service, as the newly elected vestry member of my church. She had a wicked smile as she did so, knowing that Fr. Hulbert didn’t think women should have such a role. But she did. She was proud of me for just being me and she always let me know I was loved and supported.
Virginia King died in 1994 after a hard-fought battle with emphysema, a lady to the end. Her funeral brought family and friends together, including my parents who drove from Texas. We would not have missed this chance to support the family or say our goodbyes to someone who lives in our hearts.
Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.