Saturday, March 12, 2011

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Aunts: Part One

My mother was one of four daughters. Each seemed to me to be as different from each other as the next one. I loved each of them for who they were and how they treated me. I'm sure, as a child, my thinking of one of them as my favorite fluctuated from week to week. It's just the way children are. They love you, then they don't like you so much, then they love you more than ever.

Let me tell you about these ladies, as I knew them. The eldest was Mildred, known to me as Aunt Sissy. She was a little bit of a thing, never reaching five feet tall, and weighing under one hundred pounds for the majority of her life. It made for a challenge when she wanted to purchase clothing, as for many years, there weren't stylish women's things in her small size. This was my 'style conscious' Aunt. She was always impecably dressed in tailored, classic clothing so she could wear her outfits for years without them going out of style. She and her husband formed their own business in the field of property development. For years they bought land and built homes in areas where there were bay beaches. They made quite a living.

As a result of their success, they were able travel extensively, taking ocean liners to Europe, to South American countries, to Middle America, the Islands. Her favorite place seemed to be Italy, and she returned there a number of times after my Uncle died, accompanied by her sister or a friend. As a child, I looked forward to their return, as she always brought me some little gift from a foreign place. When I was sixteen years old, her gift to me was an all expense paid trip to Bermuda, on a cruise ship. What a fun time we had!

Aunt Sis and her husband had no children, so her nieces and nephews were special to her. I was the oldest of the eight of us. I was blessed because I was, as I had Aunt Sis in my life longer than the rest, which meant I probably knew her best. She was a professional seamstress for a time, and also worked in a little dress shop for awhile, so she knew what was 'classy' in the fashion world. She made many dresses for me over the years, and also passed down some of her clothing to me, when I grew to fit them. I always felt as if I was quite attractive in these things, as Aunt Sis always looked so nice in them.

There was one prom dress that had been hers. When she wore it, it was a taffeta with 3/4 length sleeves, a V neckline, and a gathered skirt that went down in a V where it met the bodice. It was an irridescent pea green color which turned gold in certain lights. When I wore it, she had transformed it into a sleeveless dress, and I liked it much more. The color drew the green from my aqua-colored eyes. I felt lovely in my dress at the school dance.

Aunt Sis had bought my first bed, after I vacated the crib for my new baby brother's use. I don't know how she found it, but it was bought from a rooming house across from the school in Amagansett. The little bed was an antique with scallops at the head and foot of each side rail, and a short headboard which had a carved design. When she bought it at the auction there, it came without a mattress. So, it was fitted with a foam mattress, and painted with a new coat of paint, and I was soon sleeping in a 'big girl bed.' I used that narrow, short bed for all the years I lived at home, and then my children used it, one by one, until they outgrew it. It was always my hope that my grandchildren would sleep in it, as well, but none of them have. It is stored in my garage as I write this.

Many thoughts wind through my mind when I think of Aunt Sis. I cannot write them all. She'd spent all of her years, after babyhood, being a healthy woman who took care of herself. Still, with all the good choices she made in her eating habits, it could not ward off the end. Her last months were plagued with suffering as she fought the cancer which stole her life at the age of seventy-seven.

I miss her and love her still. All the memories we made will live on, for as long as I do. I remember them...and her...with great joy.