Who’s helping who? – Day 51

It’s my aunt’s 84th birthday, and I wanted to make sure I called her before the day got too far along; I’d hate to get caught up in something else and forget later. I was a tiny bit worried when I phoned around noon and her message box was full. Had something happened to her, and no one told me?

Fat chance. I found out when I reached her later that she was out doing a bunch of errands, and by the time she got back she was delighted to find her phone had no more room for good wishes. Because there is simply no stopping Tessie. She’ll call and say, “I just found an old picture you’d like,” or she’ll alert you she came upon something you love in a store, and bang! she’s at your door in seven minutes.

I often use a line, “It’s like calling your old aunt,” by which I mean something is so dreadful you keep putting off, all the while knowing that the longer you wait, the more you’ll have to pay emotionally when you finally do it. It’s a universal feeling, but believe me, I do not mean Aunt Tessie. She is a joy. She and my Uncle Bud, her husband, were my parents’ best friends, and now she is the only one left of the four. Her kids are my best friends, and now, I am one of her kids, too.

Calling an old aunt on her birthday is a Good Deed by anyone’s standards, but the truth is, she is our rock, and a ton of fun, besides. She doesn’t care to entertain anymore, so instead, she is always Open for Breakfast. For the last several years, you’ll find any or all of her children in her kitchen of a morning – occasionally even daughter Lee, who lives in Calgary. Poached eggs on Portuguese bread: that’s all she serves, and it’s spectacular. This is the family roundtable: it’s where the town gossip is relayed, family meals are discussed, and most importantly, it’s where lengthy summer discussions take place about which beach, whose car, and what kind of sandwiches.

I look forward to these breakfasts more than I can say. While visiting with her one morning recently, I got a little sentimental and said, “Not to be maudlin, but I will remember these years of coming here like this the rest of my life.” Tessie laughed, and zinged back, “Who says you’re going to outlive me?”

Sometimes you just have to wonder: Who’s helping who?

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4 Responses to Who’s helping who? – Day 51

  1. Nancy Fitzpatrick says:

    I love Tessie too, even if she’s not my aunt. She was the first grown up I was allowed to called by her first name. This was in the Fifties! I guess I’ll have to bop down for breakfast one of these days. Tell me when you’re going to be there!

    • HA! Same with me and your mother! It was so racy, wasn’t it, calling an adult by their first name? Tessie would be thrilled if you came to breakfast, I can assure you — and I can tell you that it’ll feel exactly like 1955 New Bedford all over again. (And late October is my next visit!)

  2. Joanie says:

    Erin, dear, this is inspirational. Alas I have no children of my own to smother with affection and experiences but I’ve tried to be the most memorable doggone aunt to my 4 nieces and 2 nephews (and assorted honorary ones) since Auntie Mame. I had a Mame only her name was NuNu. She truly was glamorous–a platinum blonde who tawked and looked just like Barbara Nichols the perennial Hollywood chorus girl. She pampered her 21 nieces and nephews no end. I miss her so much. I felt like I was on the right auntie track some years ago when my beautiful niece Colleen asked me, “Aunt Joanie, don’t you ever get embarrassed?” Not any more, my little love. Here’s to the Auntie Mame in all of us! And God bless Tess.

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