I received a package in the mail at Christmas when I was about ten years old. After gently removing the brown mailing paper on the outside, then pulling off the lovely wrapping paper on the inside, I dug through the layers of tissue. There I found the most beautiful, albeit totally inappropriate, gift. It was a sky blue peignoir set made with tons of ribbon and lace. It was absolutely gorgeous. I pulled it out and put it on over my clothes. It was much too large as it was for a grown woman but I felt sophisticated and very adult wearing it. My mother was mortified at the gift for me. I was ecstatic as my Aunt Ruth had struck again.
Ruth was my Dad’s older sister. There were about 15 years between them and, as he was the baby of the family, there were several siblings in between as well. Because all my grandparents had died before I was 3 years old, Ruth kinda stepped into that role in my life. She had red hair and was most unconventional for her time.
My dad tells me that when he was young, Ruth stood at the gate to their yard and loudly declared her defiance to their mother regarding a man she had been seeing. She was running off to marry him. He was an older man and her parents disapproved of him. But she didn’t care what her parents had to say about it. She left Arkansas, married him and moved outside Atlanta, GA. She never went back home again. Eventually she became a young widow, but she didn’t have to worry about money at all.
My parents had grown up in the Depression and both of them were very cautious with money. Therefore, I was not prepared for the extravagance of Ruth. When we visited her home, I was in awe at its lovely furnishings and all the “breakables” and “pretties” she had around her. She had no children and my parents were put off by what they saw as her flashy things.
Ruth would show up at our home in Louisiana unexpectedly; having decided to just hop in her car and drive alone to see us. It was always a wonderful surprise when she came. She was vivacious and beautiful.
The packages that she mailed me always thrilled and excited me. She sent me things that my mother would never have bought me. Although the peignoir set was the best gift ever, there were beautiful sweaters sent to me as well. I kept the peignoir until it turned to shreds and even had it when my daughter was small. She played dress up in it just as I did.
Ruth was only in my life a relatively short time as she passed away when I was a young teen. My parents left me and my brothers behind while they flew to Georgia for her funeral so I never got to tell her good bye. My father ended up driving her car back to our home and we had her essence with us whenever we took the car anywhere.
But best of all, my parents brought back a box of her silverware for me to have. Inside the box I found some necklaces hidden away and that was a really special treat. While, they were costume jewelry, I felt they were the crown jewels-they were so beautiful.
I still use the silver on holidays and wear the jewelry on special occasions -always thinking of the woman who was my favorite aunt.
Really sweet Deanne. It's so funny how we as children have such a different perspective about our aunts and uncles whereas our parents have all the growing up baggage. In fact I just published a story about my grandfather, Gammie, who had fond memories of until I recorded my Mom describing him i an old photo. Turns out he was the neighborhood drunk that nobody could stand. Yet, he always made me feel special.
Such an uplifting story. Thanks