Kindred Spirits - Aunt Bessie and Cousin Eugene
Her name was Bessie and she was tiny and so much like Grandma, only she wasn’t bedridden like Grandma but kept on the go. Something about her just always seemed pitiful and to this day I do not know what it was. She had so many kids and grandkids living with her, I didn’t know which was which. They were everywhere. Eugene fit in there somehow with her same sweet spirit.
There are people who stand out in our lives years after they are gone, even. These two do. I always remember them with a sense of sadness that they deserved so much more from life.
This is that story.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
- Mat 7:16
My Dad's Oldest Sister
Bessie always kept her hair up in a bun just like Grandma and she was getting that hump on her back like Grandma too. She was just so sweet and I never knew what to say to her. I was still shy, although I was now married, it would be a while before I stopped being so “backward” as my folks called it. Conversing did not come easily to me, especially with people I did not know well.
After Bessie asked me about Mom, Dad and my oldest brother (who was the only one she really knew well from back when) there was just nothing more to say. Why would I ask how she was doing when I could clearly see? It would have been rude really and embarrassing for her I knew. The best thing to do I knew was to make some polite talk and get out of her way to get on with her work. She would peek up at me in a shy way herself every little while and give me a halfhearted smile. I looked so much like my mom she said who she had been close to so many years ago, before all the children and grandchildren. They had spent many hours together while my dad who was her baby brother, was off fighting in other countries.
When Life Was Young
Bessie did not live with Dad's parents (also her parents) as Mom did with my baby brother. But she did live in one of the houses nearby that shared a dirt road with the many houses there.
Most living here worked for the same company that supplied the housing for low rent. This made a community really tight-knit but the women especially. Many of whom did not work, shared many hours over the fence, if not in a kitchen, for a quick cup of strong coffee. Conversation and laughter was their only entertainment.
Bessie had married this man that I do not think anyone much liked, but you never let on with family you didn’t like one of them. You said hello and then tried to keep your distance to not be forced into conversation with them. I think he may have been an alcoholic and I don’t remember him working anywhere ever and Bessie was just about the poorest soul I ever knew that wasn’t homeless. Her clothes just hung on her paper-thin body and I can never remember her sitting down or relaxing. She just kept moving and working and being as polite as she knew how to be.
“Nobody is so weird others can't identify with them.” ― Rebecca Miller
When Your Husband Meets Your Weird Family
My husband and I had gone to visit my sister for a few days near my Aunt Bessie and there was a store at the end of the two-lane road in front of her house. My husband had walked there for some reason and on his way back this man stopped him and said get on in the car and when my husband hesitated not even being far from the house anyway, the man then slapped my husband on the arm and said, “You don’t know me, do you?”
Well, of course, he didn’t. The man said, “I am the best ---- uncle you ever did have!” He told my husband his name and he recognized it, of course. Not only was he not my husband’s uncle but only mine by marriage, but my husband was kind and went along with him. Later we went to his and my aunt’s house. Thankfully my husband took my place conversing with this uncle. People like this could entertain him while shocking me, so it worked out well.
How you have treated others who have passed.
Do you feel you did the best you could have or do you recall with regret?
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.” ― Shannon
That is where I met some cousins, first, second, third? Did the mothers of these children live here too or had Bessie just been dumped with every grandchild she had? I had no idea, but there was this one boy who took an instant liking to me and it appeared he was a year or two younger than me.
I remember him looking just like a kid, really, but then he started coming to my sister’s house to see me and it was like my husband did not exist, he paid him no mind. It was a good drive from his house to my sisters and we only speculated how he may have gotten there. He came to see me though and asked for me if I didn't answer the door, and at least one time he brought me a new dress. My sister knew them all a little better than I did and gave me some reason at the time why he may have done this.
Who does things like that? But for the life of me, I could not say anything to hurt his feelings. It didn’t make my husband mad, it was clear the boy had no education or knowledge about things like this. Now maybe he brought me even more things, it has been many years ago and it was so embarrassing to me and I had no idea how to handle it.
I could feel my face burn red as he looked adoringly at me. It really hurt me to see someone love me that didn’t care to love me showing it openly in front of my husband or whoever happened to be there. It was like someone found a puppy and they just wanted it so bad and the puppy was me. You could see that in his face. The times he was around were extremely emotional even if a little humorous once he was gone and I could relax and laugh it off. I have to admit though more than once I wanted so bad to cry but my sister is one of those to take nothing serious so there was no getting too down about it.
Besides, what could I do?
Gone But Not Forgotten
I was really glad to go home having all these sad and mixed feelings from this aunt and this cousin. Life had never dealt me a dilemma such as this and being so young I suppose made it so very hard to handle. My sister said he often would come around after I left and ask about me and talk about how purdy I was.
Only a couple years later though he died from some disease, possibly cancer, and it hurt me so very much his pitiful life was cut so short but I was so thankful I always showed him kindness. I would never have let him think I would make fun of his deep feelings.
He and Bessie were of the same spirit somehow, I felt. They both desired to be loved on this earth I think as every living thing is apt to do but somehow they seemed to be robbed of that joy. I just hoped somehow they felt regardless of my guarded and shy manner I had not yet learned to master that I did have special feelings for each of them. I would have wished that more than anything. For looking back over the past why else would these two be remembered so long and so lovingly if they did not have a place deep in my heart?
If only they could have known that before they left this world. I so hope they did get at least a glimpse of those feelings.
© 2016 Jackie Lynnley