This is a recycled post, originally from June of 2006. Once again, my glads are blooming, and I thought I’d repost this one in memory of Auntie Ann.
My gladioluses are blooming in the back yard by the door. Whenever I see “glads”, I think of Auntie Ann. She was my only “Auntie” … all the others (and there are many) are “Aunt”.
Auntie Ann was my godmother. To me, she was always old … she was my grandmother’s best friend for more than 80 years, but no blood relation to me. She had no grandchildren (her only child being a bachelor), but she had many, many godchildren, and she loved us all.
Auntie Ann always had time to play. Her husband, my Uncle Bill, was a housepainter and wallpaperer, and she and I used to spend hours on end going through his old and outdated wallpaper sample books, making pinwheels and cutting out pictures of flowers or cowboys and gluing them onto paper to make “mosaics”.
Auntie Ann could sew anything. She made me dresses all the years I was growing up; I still remember one in particular. It was made from “dotted swiss” fabric, white with little tiny raised red polka-dots. It had puffy sleeves and a full skirt, and a bright red sash belt that tied in a big bow in the back. I was about 7 years old when she made it, and I wore it until it was so short that my teacher wouldn’t let me wear it to school any more. I loved that dress. My Barbie Doll had one just like it that Auntie Ann made from the leftover fabric.
On Thursdays my grandmother, my mother, and Auntie Ann would get together at one another’s house (they took turns). They would have lunch, and “do” each other’s hair. Sometimes it was just a wash and set, other times it was perms or color, but it was ritual — every Thursday, except on Thanksgiving or if Christmas fell on Thursday, and then they would do it on Wednesday or Friday. When I was very little, before I started school, I would be included in the day. Grandma always made me rice pudding when it was her week, and Auntie Ann always had blueberries to put in the fruit salad. When Grandpa retired and he and Grandma moved to Florida, Auntie Ann would always make sure to have blueberries AND rice pudding if I was coming to visit. She never forgot. I think of Auntie Ann whenever I eat blueberries, too. They’re still one of my favorites.
Auntie Ann’s birthday was the day before mine, so we always celebrated together. On my fourth birthday, Auntie Ann and Uncle Bill gave me a card with a clockface on it that said something to the effect of “It’s Time for Your Birthday!”. The hands on the clock moved, and Uncle Bill sat me on his lap in his recliner and taught me how to tell time with that card. Then he walked with me to the corner drugstore and bought me a watch for my birthday, he said “because any four-year-old that can tell time ought to have her own watch”. I had that watch until I was 16, when I left it by the pool at a hotel in Jacksonville, FL on the way to visit my grandparents in St. Petersburg. By the time I realized I’d left it, we were back on the road and about 2 hours away. I was heartbroken.
Auntie Ann collected stamps and coins. She tried very hard to help me develop an interest, but I just wasn’t into it. All her coins and stamps were stored in this magical closet in her dining room. I call it magical, because it’s where she stored her games, and the little blue china tea set that I was allowed to play with when I visited. It was real glass, and I was allowed to have my sandwich on the blue plate, and drink my “tea” (mostly milk) from the blue cups. I still have one of the cups, on a display shelf in my kitchen. My ex-husband threw the rest of the set away as “junk” many years ago … I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven him for that.
Also in the magical closet there was a game called “Tri-Ominios”. Auntie Ann was the only person I ever knew who had a Tri-Ominos game. We would play almost every time I went to visit. We also played checkers, dominoes, and Parcheesi. Like I said, Auntie Ann always had time to play.
Oh yeah, the gladioluses. To the best of my knowledge, Auntie Ann never had a job outside the home. But she and Uncle Bill owned a couple acres of land in the next town, and they planted it all in gladioluses. They spent weeks on end every year lifting and separating the bulbs, and replanting them. They sold the flowers to florists and funeral homes. And always there were glads in her house.
Auntie Ann died in her sleep in 1982. She was 93. Uncle Bill did likewise a week later. He was 97. She got to hold my son when he was a baby; my daughter wasn’t born until 1984. I miss them both, but my memories of them will live on forever.