A Mini-Vacation
What Matters to Crabby Old Lady Today


By Janet

Today I’ve been thinking about a lady I used to know. It makes sense that I use the word lady, because it implies a gentle manner and is a word that seems to embody who and how she was.

I think we must have met long before my first recollection of her. Nevertheless, the first time she appears in my memory is on a summer afternoon. Her white-grey hair is carefully combed, as always, and she’s wearing one of her floral cotton summer dresses. The pink and white one, I think it was.

She’s standing in the doorway of her tidy little house, holding the door open for us, smiling and chattering cheerfully. We would come to repeat this ritual many times over several summers, but that first time and how she looked on that day has stayed with me for all these years.

She always seemed genuinely happy to see my mom (Patsy) and us. “Oh, Patsy, how are you? Come on in. Look at all these nice kids. Oh, and here’s my little Jeanne!”

My mom and I and some of my siblings had made the two or three mile walk to her house - an easy trek because it was all downhill (and because I didn’t have a toddler to pick up and carry every so often like my mom did).

After taking our shoes off at the door, we respectfully made our way into her house. It was a curious place to me, neat as a pin and simply decorated with old fashioned furniture and knickknacks.

I remember a figurine that sat on a small table by her green and gold lamp. It was of a woman with a fancy hat and gloves and a very glamorous smile painted across her porcelain face.

In the dining room was a corner shelf that held several elegant flowered teacups with matching saucers. I can still picture the bright colors and delicate handles of the teacups, and how strikingly they stood out against the dark ornate wood of the shelf.

I didn’t think about it then, but today I can imagine her placing each teacup in just the right spot, and how she must have dusted them one by one, carefully returning them to their proper place on the shelf.

Her windows were filled with plants. She was a prolific and gifted gardener; one of the many sweet things about her I didn’t truly appreciate until it no longer was. I’m lucky after all these years to have vivid memories of her flower garden, and of her walking gracefully in and out of the rows of beautiful flowers like a butterfly who didn’t want to miss out on a single one.

She was at home in the middle of all those flowers, chatting happily about which ones were doing well, which would bloom next and what colors they would be, stopping here and there to select just the right blossoms for a pretty and colorful bouquet to send home with my mom.

After a visit to her flower garden she would send us to the neighborhood store for vanilla ice cream. She would open the ice cream carton from the side and slice it like a loaf of bread. It was a special treat when raspberries were in season. She’d put them on our ice cream fresh from her garden. I’d be hard pressed to remember having a better treat before or since.

As I write this, I realize I have an overflow of memories about this sweet lady - too many and too fond to write about in one sitting. So just for now, I will remember her the way she was on those sunny summer afternoons, greeting us with a smile, making sure our visit was pleasant and special the way a gracious hostess does, and sending us off with more smiles, happy chatter, some homemade raspberry jam, and of course, a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

Here’s to you, Aunt Vickie.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Janet, this remembrance travelled me back to my grandmother and another woman who lived in the neighborhood. Both exuded that grace, a simple and full joie de vivre you describe so well.

They seemed refined, easy, uncomplicated and now a treasured memory. But then, only a fraction was known of their lives.

...... has triggered a mountain of memories for me.
Too real !!
Many thanks for a delightful story.

Janet, what a lovely, vivid, and sweet memory of your Aunt Vickie. Thank you for sharing it.

Thank you for a delightful story that made me so happy. What great memories!

Oh, I also KNEW that lady! The memories made me smile, and I could... almost... smell the warm summer sun on the raspberries hidden behind their sheltering leaves in the garden.

And yes, the teacups... each one different from the rest, and each a gift from a special, treasured friend. (I still think a cup of tea served in a special china cup is so much better than a mug of tea served in an ordinary crockery mug!)

What a delightful memory. Thank you so much for sharing!

How lovely to return to a time long ago that we no longer enjoy in this day.

Oh, since now and then I notice here a suggestion that I "post another comment", here I go, (daring to post another comment). I find that looking back on some of our pasts can be so relaxing, an escape from the constant Breaking News on my kitchen TV.

After reading about Aunt Vickie this morning, I felt a broad smile coming on !! I'm still smiling as I remember my husband's three Aunties, as they were called. Two of the three were Aunt Min, and Aunt Nell ~~ names we rarely hear these days.

They lived across the river. Very proper, actually all three, they wore their cleanest dresses and white cotton lace gloves when they went grocery shopping. My husband, as a young lad, routinely accompanied his parents across the river to purchase chickens and eggs which the Aunties would have waiting for them on the kitchen table.

My husband-to be was taught that absolutely everything was "better" on the Canadian side. He carried a heavy empty jug, with a little hook for a handle, so that he might carry home a jug of water drawn from same river. It was better.

Here's to you, Aunties......and thanks again, Janet, for your sweet story and for making my today better......still smiling !!!

Janet, that is a sweetheart story.

Loved it.

Keep writing.

I too remember ladies like your Aunt Vickie. Thank you for sharing with vivid descriptions. Especially loved how she opened the carton of ice cream and sliced it like a loaf of bread. Yum. Your memories have wings. Keep up the storytelling.

Loved this story, I've read it several times. Thank you for bringing back memories of my Grandma Rose, whose collection of tea cups I have and use. My dear friend Marilyn has her Aunt Mary's cups and saucers, and I have given her many of my grandmother's beautiful embroidered table cloths. There's nothing like coffee or tea served in a real china cup on a table with a real tablecloth.
I know, I know, it sounds like I'm pining for the good old days... well I am.
Loved all the comments too.
Thank you everyone, especially Vicki for this treasure of a story.

The comments to this entry are closed.