Mom2Mom December 2003; Augusta Chronicle /The Family Chronicles
There's just something about the holidays and rekindling old relationships.
When I was a child, I thought my ultra hip Aunt Jinny hung the moon. She and Uncle Bill had no children of their own, so she really doted on my siblings and me. I only saw her twice a year, at Easter and the 4th of July, when we traveled to Pennsylvania.
Aunt Jinny was way ahead of her time: she wore lots of jewelry, shaggy wigs, the highest heels I'd ever seen, and stark white nail polish. I can still smell her heavy perfume mingled with the smoke from Uncle Bill's pipe.
Over the years, Aunt Jinny and my dad had a terrible falling out. We didn't see her anymore because the visits stopped. Though she and my father pretty much disowned each other, Aunt Jinny never lost touch with us kids. We were always showered with generous birthday and Christmas presents, and a Hallmark card for every special occasion from Valentine's Day to Halloween.
Well, my children have always known about their enigmatic Aunt Jinny, this lady who showers them with Christmas and birthday presents, and never misses the opportunity to send them a special card. They've talked with her on the phone and written thank you notes to her, but they've had no tangible impression of Aunt Jinny.
That is, until the holidays; for the first time since the 70's, Aunt Jinny came south.
My ultra hip Aunt Jinny is old now, but even at 85 she's still intact. In “Aunt Jinny” tact. She's still wearing the wigs, the jewelry, the stark white nail polish (I'm not kidding- it looks like she's painted them with Liquid Paper) and even the high heels, but you'd think she'd be more comfortable in “sensible shoes” because she shuffles now when she walks.
Oh, there's one more thing: Aunt Jinny NEVER stops talking. Talking about her childhood, her former jobs, her neighbors, store clerks, Uncle Bill, her childhood, her former co-workers, that person at Swiss Colony who took her phone order, her childhood, the teller at the bank, the nurse who was so nice when she had surgery back in '63, her childhood, and on and on and on….. I kid you not!
There was no preparing my children for this phenomenon. They were in her clutches before they even knew what hit them!
Zack was the first to break away. He tracked down his dad and said, exasperated, “Aunt Jinny won't stop talking. She's sitting in the den now, just talking to herself. Don't go in there, Dad!”
The girls tried so hard to be polite, but even they learned to play little tricks like, “Oh, I think I hear Mom calling me– I'd better go see.”
Before Aunt Jinny left, she wanted to see us do a live newscast.
My first instinct was, “No way!” After all, we don't want a noisy studio when we broadcast. So while I was mulling this over in my head, little Sky came over to me and –like a real trooper- whispered, “Maddy and I will go with her, Mom… and keep her quiet!”