Elaine Papenfuss and Charles Howard Jaten
Elaine Papenfuss is my Paternal Grandpa’s sister. I’m related to Charles too but I can’t remember how other than it’s through my Paternal Grandma. They never had any kids together but lived out their lives together. After they retired and were done with their LDS missions they lived in Rexburg Idaho, this is where I came to know them. Every evening they would take a walk up and down the road they lived on.
I always knew Charles as “Uncle Howard”. He was married to Loa Jensen before he married Aunt Elaine. My favorite memory of Uncle Howard happened one 4th of July after 1998. One thing you have to know before I get too far is Uncle Howard by this point in life walked VERY SLOWLY…. Like a shuffle. I’m not exaggerating, in fact I’m probably not painting the picture well enough. Anyways, we were all over at my Uncle Rick and Aunt Karen’s house to do fireworks. Uncle Rick nailed one of those spinning fireworks to the fence post in front of us. He lit it and stepped away. As it was spinning it came loose from the fence post! The firework, still lit, came FLYING towards us! Uncle Howard LEAPED out of his chair and RAN away from the firework. We were all SHOCKED! We soon recovered and poor Uncle Howard never lived that day down. We still chuckle about this when we get together and something reminds us of it.
Aunt Elaine has always had a special place in my heart. I really got to know her while I was in middle school. She helped run the after school homework club program and I stayed after to attend. I rode home with her most of the time. I don’t remember what we talked about but I grew to love her and her passion for learning. I even remember giving her an art project, a heart made of cut apart pieces of paper. Years later when I went to her house to help her clean it out she still had that art piece on the fridge.
Aunt Elaine was diagnosed with cancer. My dad drove her to her treatments. It was horrible to see her go through them. She grew so weak. But she would still greet you with a smile. I loved her smile. As she grew weaker she and Howard decided to move to an assisted living facility closer to one of his kids out of state. Living nearby I volunteered to help her decide where her worldly possessions should go (Family, donate or throw away). I learned a lot about her earlier life through this and gained quite a few of her things. I have her Ricks College sweat shirt (since renamed Brigham Young University- Idaho); she was working there and suggested that my grandpa come work at the college in the business department. So many things could have turned out differently if he hadn’t come to Ricks College to teach, like my parents meeting….. I have a dress from a trip she took to Hawaii. I have her Master’s paper on Pride and Prejudice, it’s on Mr. Darcy. I have yet to finish Pride and Prejudice, but had to keep it for all the work I know she put into it.
My favorite item(s) that I received from Aunt Elaine was her books. She had boxes and boxes of books! More than half the books I own are from her. I ended up giving a lot of them away when I was married, but I still have a lot of them. When I told my Grandma that I had a lot of her books she smiled and told me of one of the last conversations she had with Elaine. Elaine had been worried that no one was going to love her books once she was gone. The thought made her really sad. I learned this after Elaine had passed away so I hope when she passed one she learned that I love her books.
I’m so glad I am able to write this. Elaine was an incredible woman. I will always look up to her. She was very smart. My dad told me once that she use to quiz them all on their spelling and would ALWAYS correct their grammar. I may have gotten her love of reading but I did not get that from her.
Love you Aunt Elaine! I will always remember you every time I pick up a book to read.