Monday, January 15, 2007

Aunt Edna

I want to tell you about my Aunt Edna. First thing, she is not really my aunt. I think she is my great aunt, but really, I am not quite sure. I know everyone calls her aunt. My Dad calls her aunt, I call her aunt, and all of my other relatives refer to her as aunt. She can't be everybody's aunt.

Oh, and her name is not really Edna. But get this, in my family, we all call her Aunt Edna. How screwy is that? You see, when I was a little girl, we used to stay up after bed time and listen to our parents talking in the living room. We, that is, my sister and I, would sneak out of our room (there was no padlock on the room, something that my parents never thought about), and we would sit very still and listen to our parents talking.

Our parents did not talk that much in front of us, and occasionally, we wanted to know what they felt and thought. And this was the only way for us to do this.

Well, my Dad every once and a while, talked about Aunt Edna. We deduced that this was her aunt, and she was a character. Apparently, she enjoyed stealing silverware (well, it was probably flatware, but you know, my Dad never knew the difference between the two types of utensils) from restaurants. Apparently, she felt that anything on the table was fair game – but she particularly enjoyed taking flatware.

She did not limit herself to flatware, though. She took salt and pepper shakers, flowers, vases and other assorted items. That was Aunt Edna. Funny thing is that when I was a little girl, I don't remember ever meeting Aunt Edna. I figure she was locked up "in the pen," and that's probably what I told my friends.

"Oh, your Daddy is moving out because he played house with his secretary. That's nothing. I am related to a hardened criminal." Talk about one-upmanship.

Well, years later, we learned more about Aunt Edna. I was talking with Dad, and I asked about her. At first, he said we did not have an Aunt Edna in the family (how's that for adding intrigue? Now I know she spent time in the "pen"). And after confessing that I heard he and Mom talk about her, he smiled. And he told me the whole story.

Aunt Edna was really a different one of his aunts. But since he was always told not to speak ill of his relations (remember the commandment about honoring your mother and father, well, I think it comes from there), Aunt Edna was a code name for another aunt (which I knew, a really old aunt who always smelled of lavender). Interesting what you remember about your relatives. This person smelled of lavender, that person got locked in a restroom for several hours. Really bizarre stuff that may not encapsulate the person, but it is how you remember them, nonetheless.

Aunt Edna died about ten years ago, and apparently the people that had to clean out her house had a really big job. I think she may have been a kleptomaniac, because rumor has it that there were thousands of pieces of flatware (some of which were entire sets) at her house. Plus she seems to have collections of books (some of which were library books, which were returned without late charges), magazines (I suspect these came from doctor's offices, but I have no proof), and crayons (not a clue).

I only met Aunt Edna a few times, very brief meetings at family gatherings. Mostly it was my parents introducing us and telling Aunt Edna about our accomplishments since we last met. Okay, I really don't like people talking about me when I am right there on display. But with your parents, what can you do?

Point of the whole story is that stories sometimes don't have over-arching themes that tie things together nicely. I am just glad that Aunt Edna didn't collect anything too creepy, like flatworms or doilies. Okay, she may have had a collection of doilies if they had them on tables of the restaurants she frequented.


Monica said...

My mother's Aunts had rhyming names and always wore very bright red lipstick,,,they did not smell od lavender. But one had a mean toy poodle and a candydish with antique hard candies....

Leesa said...

I forgot about the rock-hard candies stuck together in the candy dish. Priceless!

Steff said...

My Nanny had odd habits too. She liked to buy things. Unfortunately, it wasn't good thing but rather ordinary things. When she passed, we had quite the time cleaning out her house. I was the lucky winner of several packages of toilet paper. I didn't have to buy toilet paper from July till just a week ago.

Some people just have odd habits!

Anonymous said...

Family mysteries are always intriguing.


Leesa said...

steff: I had some grandparents who had a room for toilet paper (when it went on sale)

GND: yeah, I thought this was interesting. More for me, more interesting for me, at least.

Video X said...

Are you making up more stories about your Aunt Edna and doilies now? ;)

~Deb said...

Interesting story! I had a grandmother who passed away a few years back. She used to have this habit of walking into a grocery store and stealing garlic. She’d toss them in her little purse and then head for the grapes that were left out in a bin, and toss them in as well. When she got home from “shopping”, she had so much garlic and grapes, we didn’t realize where she got them from until one day I caught her. I thought it was funny.

“They charge way too much for garlic! They should be ashamed of themselves!” She would say as she plucked a few more from the produce bin.

The scent I remember her by is the smell of mothballs. She would store her clothes in the closet with tons of these God awful mothballs. Now, when I smell this on someone else or in a place, I’m reminded of my funny Catholic thief of a grandma! Gotta love dem’ Italians!

Ian Lidster said...

Aunt Edna is such a marvellous subject for Katherine Mansfield type short-story. All the elements are there, including not naming her by her real name. She's more fun than my Bible-thumping, teetotal great Aunt Nan, who used to wax poetic about the virtues of temperance, and then would get blasted on sherry at family Christmas gatherings.
I don't think families have 'characters' like Aunt Edna much any more. Thanks for sharing her tale.

Pittchick said...

I don't think I have any interesting relatives. I have however, stolen a steak knife or two from restaurants when I was in college.

Kim's Life said...

My cousin who I will not mention his name... Ok his name is Garry. Every time he is out at any occasion that has food at it. He always asks the Wait Saff for a doggie bag for his dog. He wants to take food home for his dog. You might think this is OK. BUT at my wedding he went and asked the Caters for the left over food for his dog. It might not be like sealing, but for god sake I much rather him seal it then ask for a doggie bag. What is that saying about you cant pick your family. LOL

Leesa said...

VX: not making up.

~deb: I had a few relatives who loved moth balls. And just having five or six of those balls rolling around on the closet floor is enough to have me gasping for air.

ian: you know, after I wrote this short piece, I was thinking that she would make a great short story.

pittchick: steak knife?

kim: funny. Doggie bags for a real dog? I never knew such a thing was real.

kathi said...

Aunt Edna was what we'd call a 'character'. I love the way you tell a story.

Leesa said...

kathi: thanks, sweetie. That means a lot to me.