Mothers Day makes me wistful.
You may recall that I'm an only child. I haven't had a mother since 1977 -- shortly after my 23rd birthday. A month before I lost my mother, she lost her own mother. Mama couldn't even attend Bee Mama's funeral because she was hospitalized (and miserable about it).
Three years later, we lost Nonnie, my father's mother, also in September.
September kinda sucks in my book. Thank goodness I had my mother-in-law until 1996; and my precious (Great) Aunt Daisy, who was more like Daddy's sister than his aunt, lived a long, happy life until 2004, serving as both Godmother and surrogate grandmother for me.
Daddy went to visit Aunt Daisy at her home every Saturday for decades, and sometimes stopped by to take in her trash cans on pick-up day. Her sons live far, far away from Little Rock -- in Minneapolis and Boston -- but they always visited her religiously. The younger son still makes an annual pilgrimage to tend her grave, and to visit his father's sister who will turn 90 soon.
Aunt Daisy spent most Thanksgivings and nearly every Christmas Day with our family, though she usually spent Easter with her friends. She loved the holidays and made a killer Chess Pie.
I remember asking her once how she managed to keep her yard looking so nice and weed-free -- I just knew that she had some magic secret or poison or something because her lawn was gorgeous. She just told me, "Pull, pull, pull." Heh. Aunt Daisy was never one to let a little hard work stop her from accomplishing a task.
Daisy was kind of a renaissance woman in an age when there weren't many renaissance women. She was recruited and accepted for admission at the University of Arkansas in the 1920s, but her family didn't have enough money to pay her tuition, room, and board, so she had to decline. She never gave up studying and learning, though -- among her favorite magazines were Sky and Telescope and The Smithsonian. She married and divorced the same man twice -- an architect -- and she raised her two sons pretty much by herself. She worked at the Arkansas State Treasurer's office for at least 362 1/2 years and adored her grandchildren. And me. And my daughters. She got pretty miffed at Pepper when he uprooted us and moved us to New Orleans, but she eventually forgave him, knowing by experience that a person does what he (or she) must do in order to provide for the family.
As we were cleaning out her house, her sons gave me two of her most treasured possessions -- the first was a covered cut-glass compote that had held honeycombs from the bees they kept, and that had graced her parents' kitchen table from the time she was a small child; also a Charles Burchfield print that simply calling to mind makes me think of Aunt Daisy's home -- it was the first thing you saw as you entered her front door. The print also reminds me of the setting in the movie, A Christmas Story -- one of my all-time favorites, probably because, in no small part, it calls Aunt Daisy to mind. I recently learned from her older son that Aunt Daisy had saved and saved to buy that print because her ex-husband didn't think she could do it. "Strong-willed" is also an adjective I could apply to Aunt Daisy.
When she was preparing to buy her last car -- a Chevy Malibu like my father's -- she was insistent that it have crank-down windows, not those "unreliable" electric things. It took a nationwide search, and quite a bit of time, but she got her crank-down windows and, I believe, no air conditioning. Her younger son drove it home to Minneapolis, in no small discomfort.
My daughters also were blessed with treasures from Aunt Daisy, and have staked claims on what I have of hers under my own roof. Aunt Daisy always created the most gorgeous packages! And, there were no pre-fabricated, store-bought bows for her, thank you very much. She hand-tied each humongous, elegant bow with wide, richly-colored ribbon, and added some tiny "something-special" that gave each package its own unique personality, usually calculated to relate the gift to its recipient. Younger daughter laid claim to the Christmas wrapping paper found in Aunt Daisy's attic. She doles it out in a miserly fashion -- hoping to make it last as long as possible -- on one small gift per year. Elder daughter has placed Aunt Daisy's dresser in the nursery she is preparing for her first-born, due toward the end of July. Aunt Daisy would have loved that.
Here's a photo taken on the day of my baptism and confirmation at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (yeah -- both on the same day. It's complicated) --
That's Aunt Daisy standing behind me, Mama on the left, and a cousin (Alma, who was married to my Daddy's first cousin, Chaarles -- and my Godfather -- at the time) on the right.
Here's another one of just Aunt Daisy and me, taken at my grandmother's house --
I love these pictures. And this one --
So, Happy Mothers Day -- and happy memories, even if they do make you a little wistful -- to one and all!
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