this month's topic for Dear X: write to a relative, friend or someone you have lost.
Gingerbread Houses and Funny Faces
Dear Aunt Nona,
oh, you know... i'm not sure if i ever wrote to you much when you were here. probably mom had us write thank you notes, and maybe even birthday cards. i know you wrote to us, the loveliest funny notes on rose-scented paper, tissue-thin. your handwriting, such a neat hand, leaning a little to the left. were you left handed? and sometimes you'd draw funny faces, people you knew or saw around town. i'll have to see if i can dig up some of your letters; those faces always made me giggle.
that was a long time ago, tho. i was ... in 6th grade? when you died. it was right around Christmas, and you called Warren to say that you thought it was time, and would he come by? how very polite. 8) i hope i'm lucky enough to age with half your grace and dignity, and to leave quietly in my own home, as you did.
we didn't go to the funeral, my brother and i, i don't think. hm. sis either. we did go to the reception at some relative's house afterwards. i remember talking with my brother beforehand; this was the first death we'd really dealt with in any way, i think. and i remember being upset that i didn't have anything black to wear. were you bothered that i wore a red sweater? or was it nice to see a little splash of color?
i remember visiting you at your house, when mom would bring us over for an afternoon. it seemed like such a big, mysterious place, your house. the old-fashioned kitchen with green walls and a pantry, always smelling of cookie spices, the doll house in the closet, the upstairs where we weren't supposed to go, the sitting room (or was it a bedroom?) with its neat, single bed and delicious looking books - you know, that was the first time i ever saw a Henry Miller book. you had an older copy of Tropic of Cancer. it looked fascinating and just a little dangerous, and i remember thinking it was odd that my Aunt Nona would be reading that.
so we'd come over to visit and sit with you in the living room, talking. i have an image of the room, small and neat, with dark Victorian furniture and lamps with crystal drops. most times, i'd sit on your round needle-pointed footstool, because it was the right size for me. what did we talk about? did you want to know about school? did i ask you to tell stories? i wish i could recall. i do remember your voice - light, fluting - i can see you sitting there, tiny silver-framed glasses, white hair pinned up but escaping here and there, and you're laughing about something. and i can see you standing on the porch, waving goodbye when we drove away, filled up with cookies and hugs.
there are little reminders in my life, still. you made afghans for each of us when we were kids; i still have the chocolate one tucked away somewhere. and somehow, i ended up with several of your recipes. you couldn't have written them out for me, so i'm not quite sure how they ended up in my recipe box. it's your handwriting, tho, on a few pieces of note paper, describing how to make cookies, i think, and suet pudding. um, sorry to say, Aunt Nona, i probably won't be making the pudding. but i did think of you last Christmas, when i got really ambitious and made a gingerbread house for the kids. you know, that was always a highlight for us, growing up - you would send a gingerbread house every year. mom and dad, i think, got us one the next year, but it wasn't the same. something about the package arriving, and tearing into it, then trying to pry all the good bits off - it was a lot of fun. so there you go - i tried to pass along a little bit of the fun by making my own gingerbread house.
i wish we'd gotten to know each other a little better, Aunt Nona. but know that i think of you often, and you're always part of my life.