Auntie Maude

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-of-dreamcatcher-during-sunset-5601484/
My (Great) Auntie Maude was a force of nature!  She was strong, opinionated, independent!  For a seven-year-old boy rapt in her love, she was bigger than life! Auntie Maude seemed to be ever present in my young life.  I’m sure she just visited on occasion, as we lived in Missouri, and she was up in northern Illinois (Joliet, a city near Chicago.)  But, I have so many, and so vivid of memories of her — it felt like she was always around.  In my mind, in my presence, in my looking forward to her next visit. She always brought gifts.  Many were I’m sure quite small and insignificant to an adult, but to me, they were like gold.  More than this, she brought an energy to our home.  I never saw her cross or upset.  Rather, she was always positive and happy — to me, she seemed like laughter and joy, all balled up in the body of a white haired angel.
I have so many great memories of Auntie Maude:
  • She loved to play card games! She taught us canasta, crazy eights, and I’m sure many more games.  We played GoFish!  I think I even convinced her to play War! With me on a rare occasion.  (She was a bit too intelligent for that kids game.)
  • She loved to scold us kids when we started to pick up our dealt hands before all the cards were laid out — “If this were a poker game, they might shoot you for picking up your hands early.”
  • She taught me how to shuffle cards. And more importantly, how to bridge them, so that the cards did not get all bent up.
  • She once bought me my own automatic card shuffler for Christmas! I just put the deck or decks in the machine, turned a crank, and like magic, they were shuffled.
  • She had mangled up toes. Mom told me that Auntie Maude’s family could never really afford shoes that fit her when she was growing up.
  • She never married. I believe that she was became an adult during World War II, learned to work and earn her own keep during the way, and never wanted to shed her independence later on.
  • Auntie Maude was the only person I ever knew who could cow Grandpa Martin (her brother.) Grandpa was a tough, strong man, but I think he was a bit scared of Auntie Maude.
  • She comforted me the day that Mona left for India. I was so distraught, but I recall she laid me on the floor of her living room, put a wet rag on my check, and put an old electric fan to blow on me.
  • She was always so proud of me (and all her nieces and nephews.) She believed SO strongly in education.  When I went to graduate school, she so looked forward to watching me get my hood as a Ph.D.
Sadly, Auntie Maude passed before I achieved my doctorate.  This has always been a source of sadness for me.  I’m absolutely sure she was proud of me when I finally earned that degree — but I so wanted her to be there in person, when I “walked”.

She was a great, great lady!  I am who I am, in so many ways, because she was my Auntie Maude!

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