Despite the fact that I'm the eldest of two daughters, who's the eldest of two daughters, who's the eldest of two daughters, and that I come from a looooong line of WASPs, dating at least back to the American Revolution, if not the Mayflower, I do have some colorful stories from my childhood.
I was reminded of one of my favorite elderly aunts when I was reading The Philosopher Mom's blog posting for today. My story isn't quite as detailed as Kalynne's because my memories are sporadic and disconnected, but quite vivid all the same.
My great great Aunt Louise was my grandmother's aunt (on my mother's side), although she was only about nine years older than my grandmother. Aunt Louise became like a sister to my grandmother when my grandmother's mother died in childbirth just before her little girl was delivered by cesarean. My grandmother was only three years old when her mother died. Her grandmother took her in and raised her and her baby sister because their father didn't feel he could raise two little girls on his own. My great great grandmother had already birthed fourteen children of her own and Aunt Louise, at age twelve, was the youngest still at home. We always visited with Aunt Louise when we'd go to Kentucky to see my grandparents. We'd drive there nearly every summer from Colorado, except for a few summers when my grandparents would come to visit us.
Aunt Louise was married to Uncle Bill and they lived in a big ol' white house with a big ol' white goose in the backyard who always managed to evade our attempts at catching her. Aunt Louise's four poster bed was so high there was a step ladder to climb up into it. She had an attic upstairs and would let me explore it by myself. I always loved sneaking away to the attic alone while the grown-ups were talking. I don't know if she put the toys up there just so that I could find them or if I really was clever enough to uncover those antique treasures. One of my favorite toys was a tiny cast iron stove that was fully functional (less the fire burning inside it) and it looked just like the one she had in her huge country kitchen. There were also little china dishes that seemed to me to be at least a hundred years old. I always felt like I stepped back in time when I would climb up into her attic.
Aunt Louise was a rather large woman...must've been at least 5'8" and over 200 lbs but she never seemed fat to me, just large and full of love. When she hugged me those huge bosoms of hers would swallow me up and I knew that everything was right with the world. She made the best sweet tea, fried chicken, corn on the cob, biscuits and gravy, grits and turnip greens and to top it all off--homemade blackberry pie--and that was just lunch. We'd sit in her spacious homey kitchen for hours eating, and as the grown-ups were talking about people and places I knew nothing about, I'd stare at the countless do-hickeys and knick-knacks scattered around her kitchen, hanging from the walls and ceiling and tucked into every nook and cranny.
Her husband, Uncle Bill, liked to hug me too, but I always felt uneasy when he'd hug me just a bit too long. Turns out when Aunt Louise had to put him in a nursing home because he was getting a tad senile, he tried groping all the nurses and he got himself into a heap of trouble.
I still smile when I think of Aunt Louise, and I'm relieved that my kid instincts on Uncle Bill were correct enough to know to push away when his hugs got a little too much.
RIP Aunt Louise and Uncle Bill.