when a great aunt comes calling…

“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent van Gogh

(from left to right:
Aunt Blanche, Aunt Alma, my great grandmother Wiliford, and shy Mimi (Mary)
hiding behind their mom / circa 1917)

When I was a little girl, I had two great aunts who were still living.
Aunt Blanche and Aunt Alma.

Both women rattled my nerves…
or maybe it was more like they simply scared me to death.

They were the sisters to my grandmother, my mother’s two aunts.

Blanche had never married.
For as long as I could remember, she had lived with my grandmother,
having her own separate area of the house.
She always seemed old to me.

The story went that she had had a young beau who had asked for her hand in marriage…but…he was California dreaming and bound, hoping to make his fortune
in a bustling new area of the country.

This was a time of one century turning to another.
The thought of leaving home and family in Georgia,
setting off to a still newly settled West Coast, with a young man who had nothing
more than a dream… was simply more than she could bear.
She turned down his proposal and remained single until she passed away in her
late 80’s.

The other great aunt, Great Aunt Alma lived in Clearwater, Florida.
She and her husband had no children of their own and in my mind,
they lived to simply play golf with the other old people.

This pistol of a woman was as wide as she was tall.
At 4’11” she was truly short and truly round.
Her perfume filled the room with a sickeningly sweet scent that lingered in
one’s nostrils long after she was gone.
When first arriving she would always make a bee line for little cheeks…
grabbing both cheeks with her thumb and index fingers, giving them a hard tweak and squeeze before leaving brightly red lipstick mark imprinted on both now sore cheeks.

Whenever we were told of an impending visit by Aunt Alma, a deep sense of dread
descended over both me and my younger brother.
Yet as I aged and grew up, my great aunt who by now was widowed, seemed to
be more gruff and impatient…far from embracing or loving.
She no longer grabbed to pinch cheeks or smear ones face with lipstick
but was rather matter of fact and brusque with her greeting.
Plus she would cuss like a sailor in her impatience.

I kept both of these women at arm’s length as their personalities and lives were not
overtly open to young people. They were nice and always gave nice gifts yet there was
no mistaking the fact that they preferred limited interaction with their
young great niece and nephew.

And so now it seems as if we have a new great aunt arriving on the scene…
one who has announced the coming of a most wicked visit.

Her name is Irma.

Somehow I imagine that she too is rather brusque and very matter of fact.
As she is also very round and and exceedingly wide.
We’ve been told that she will roar into town making her presence known in a
most deadly fashion.

Just as I had a sense of dread as a child over the forthcoming visit of great Aunt
Alma, I now have that same sense of foreboding with Irma’s impending visit.

But the difference between Alma and Irma—Alma did love us in her own odd way as
she did enjoy giving us gifts… Irma I fear however cares only for herself…
Taking no prisoners and making no apologies before abruptly departing just as
rudely as she arrived…

Prayers for Florida as well as neighboring Georgia…..
as our prayers continue for Texas and Louisiana…

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:29-30

19 comments on “when a great aunt comes calling…

  1. prior.. says:

    Hey there – long time no see….
    and I come back to a post about what is coming from the sea….
    well done with this masterfully written piece. You cleverly shared your family history and connected it to the current event.
    but my favorite takeaway was the way the really summed up the personality of your aunts – and how that made you feel – and I just had a sense for the turn of the century and older people I knew as a child.
    lastly, my spouse is doing a swim challenge this month and yesterday had a senior swim class leave the pool area and he asked – ‘why do some women wear so much perfume to where is gets in your nose for a long time…”
    tied right in to your post.
    anyhow, also praying for florida and east coast

    • Oh so good hearing from old friends!!!
      Welcome dear Prior—I appreciate your kind words—I couldn’t think of a better analogy for Irma–as I often wonder how in the heck “they” pick the names of these storms…so when I first heard the named storm as Irma—I couldn’t help but think of someone old great aunt, no offense to any younger Irmas out there….and then to my own great aunt Alma—and so now we all wait!
      don’t be a stranger!

      • prior.. says:

        I just heard a lady on the radio who has the first nakme of Irma and she was all mad that they used her name.
        I think folks at the center randomly pick names to go from a to z – and once read about when they have to cycle through a second time and they used Greek something or other – gosh I am rusty –
        but you are right
        aunt went well – and after I left your post I saw another blogger call it aunt irma – ha
        and I will be back to check in again, but super nice to have caught your fresh post this morning.
        peace –
        and prayers for all.

      • to you as well Prior 🙂

  2. Prayers for all… beautifully done!

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    Love how you knit this together. It reminded me of two great aunts I had growing up. These sisters were rarely seen but one came to my young family’s home for a visit once and got stuck in our recliner. My kids thought she was a giant, because of her size. My poor 145 pound husband had to lift at least 300 pounds from a reclining position. It was quite a sight. Thank you for adding this story to a challenging time for all of you in Irma’s path. Just remember that there are many praying for your safety and we know that God has a purpose for all of this. Stay safe, my friend.

  4. Amen to your pray, faith, and may God continue and increase Hos safety and blessings on you and those you love and care for.

  5. oneta hayes says:

    A great comparison. And thanks for the quite appropriate and comforting ending scripture.

  6. Salvageable says:

    Beautifully said. You began by reminding me of my great-aunt Ada, who was larger than life and twice as loud. Yes, I’m praying for the people in the path of Irma and also for those poised to jump to help as soon as she passes. J.

  7. Lynda says:

    Prayers for all those whose lives have been lost and those whose lives have been turned upside down by these storms. Great post!

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