I often think about my Aunt R. who lived across the street from my Grandmother. There were so many things I loved about her and I thought she was the most fun Aunt in the world. She did all kinds of these things that my mother would never do, like read Harlequin Romances and the National Enquirer magazine. (I have to admit that I was a young adult before I realized that not everything in print is true...I thought that a woman really did give birth to a monkey with two heads.)
My Aunt also used to buy things by mail order. My mother was very conservative, would never buy things like that. As a matter of fact, my Aunt probably shouldn't have either, I don't think she could really afford it, but she got these wonderful boxes of stuff in the mail. She and my grandmother bought boxed cards, or health products, or vitamins. They were allowed to choose a free gift with each order, or sometimes the company would just send them a surprise. It always felt like Christmas when they would get one of those boxes and I would get to watch them open it.
I remember one incident that was so typical of my Aunt R. Her daughter had a horse that was kept up above town in a field. Some of my Aunt's friends came to visit, and wanted to see the horse. I went with her to show them the horse. Usually when they wanted the horse to come, they would shake a bucket of oats, and the horse would hear it and come running. But this day my Aunt forgot the bucket of oats. She really wanted to show the horse to her friends, so she thought of something that might make the same sound. She took off her bra and shook it in the wind. It did make an interesting noise. The horse came running!
I remember another incident that happened at Christmas. Someone sent her a present in the mail, and in the return address box it simply said, "Sandy Claws". I remember my Aunt puzzled over that for days, trying to figure out who sent it. It was so much fun to see how much fun that was for her.
Another thing I remember about my Aunt is that she had an amazing ability to work quickly with her hands. Whatever it was that she did, sewing, or crocheting, or cutting vegetables, she could do quickly.
When I moved to China, my Aunt asked me if I would buy her a Chinese baby doll. I looked everywhere, but at that time in China there weren't many toys for sale. The people couldn't afford to buy toys, so only cheap plastic toys like you would find in the dollar store were available. My Aunt began to have health problems, and was eventually put in a care center with Alzheimers type symptoms. I came home for R&R and brought a small ceramic doll that I had found in China. I took it to her at the care center. She did recognize me, but then returned to her own little world and acted as if I weren't there. I always wished I had been able to find the doll to buy for her while she was still mentally competent.
Her house still stands across the street from my parent's home. Her children come there often and use it as a vacation home. They have fixed it up, and it looks better than ever, but things just don't seem the same without her there.