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  • An American Hero

    November 11, 2009

    Uncle Claude was already in his late 70s when I came into the family about 13 years ago.  He passed away about a year or so before Sean was born.  Many things bring Uncle Claude to mind, but nothing more so than Veteran’s Day.

    The first time I met him was on a warm November afternoon.  AD had taken me to Tuna to meet the family for the first time and one of the first people he wanted me to meet was his Uncle Claude, the man who had been like a father to him after his own father died when he was a young boy.

    That afternoon, the three of us took off and played a round of golf and what I learned about him that day was that he was a quiet man loathe to draw attention to himself, that he played a mean game of golf and that he had a razor sharp dry wit to the delight of those agile enough to keep pace.

    What I didn’t know about him on that particular day was that he had hoped to play professional baseball before he was called away to serve in World War II when he was eighteen.

    I didn’t know that as a 19-year-old boy, he had survived the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach at Normandy and then later the Battle of the Bulge – two of the most horrifically bloody and casualty-laden battles in American military history.

    I didn’t know that later he had ridden through the streets of Paris with de Gaulle as Parisians cheered for her liberators. I didn’t know that he had received a Purple Heart after an enemy’s bullet left him with a shattered elbow and unable to fully extend his right arm for the rest of his life.

    And I will never know the horror and hardship he suffered without complaint for my freedom.

    Claude lived his life in such a way that very few people knew that he had served America with such honor and valor. He returned home and quietly carried on.

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    Uncle Claude was not just a hero to a young fatherless boy, but he was a genuine American hero, and remains so to all who enjoy her freedoms.

    Playing Favorites

    March 21, 2009

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    Awesome Dudette and Birthday Girl

    March 17, 2009

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    Today is my Aunt Jean’s birthday. She is 91. This is a picture of her that I stole off my mother-in-law’s desk.  Actually I didn’t steal it. I asked her if I could have it as I was putting it my purse. Along with some stamps and a brand new tube of lip gloss.  She sighed and said something like, “I suppose” which I took to mean “Yes, please, I want you to have those things.”

    This is a government worker ID mug shot of some sort which I think was taken  around 1937.   It had her name on the placard, but I Photoshopped it out because I am so very clever. Plus I don’t want y’all to know her name because then all the internets will show up on her doorstep begging that she be their aunt too and that she make them the best ever cherry cobbler.  No! No I say! You cannot have her, she is my aunt —  mine, mine, mine! And about 53 other cousins. But clearly she likes me the best.

    I keep this picture on my desk.  I enjoy looking at it off and on throughout the day because I think Aunt Jean is so pretty. And she inspires me to look more carefully for the goodness in people, to choose words of kindness over criticism, to focus outward and upward.

    Happy Birthday Aunt Jean!

    * * *

    If you are new around here, here are two classic Aunt Jean posts:

    Limit Two Protocol

    and

    It’s Not A Party Without Properly Cleaned Switchplates

    Mover, Shaker, Biker?

    June 3, 2008

    At age 90, my Aunt Jean is a mover. Not a shaker though, because that would be undignified. 

     

    Aunt Jean is always on the go, on various committees, visiting folks in the hospital, looking in on the elderly her nieces and nephews and does it all with a quick step and in stylish attire.

     

    Every month, the church she attends arranges for the seniors to go out for dinner together at a local dining establishment where Christian fellowship and merriment commence therein.

     

    Last month, the senior coordinator selected a new place in town called Luce Wheels.

     

    Cousin Cheryl, who lives in Tuna and is about my age, sometimes goes with Aunt Jean to these senior dinners using the excuse that she will drive her home after dark, but really we all know it’s because Aunt Jean is fun to hang out with.

     

    When the seniors arrive at this new establishment, it turns out to be a biker bar. 

     

    No matter.  All the seniors go in and enjoy a meal and then later some of the tattooed patrons were nice enough to show them how to play shuffleboard.

     

    About 7:00pm, Cousin Cheryl turns to Aunt Jean, yawns pointedly and says, “Well, it’s getting late, I guess I better be getting you home.”

     

    “Oh no,” Aunt Jean says, “I think I’d like to stay. The band is about to start.”

     

    On second thought, maybe Aunt Jean is a shaker.

     

    Limit Two Protocol

    May 30, 2008

    When I was at my Aunt Jean’s house a while back, I noticed that while she didn’t keep canned goods in the bathroom, she did have a stash of probably 25 or 30 giant Snickers bars. In the kitchen that is, not the bathroom. And it wasn’t even Halloween.

    It was surprising to see so many candy bars because you never see her eat anything like that. Aunt Jean is tall and thin and regal and dignified and not given to self-indulgence. When I asked her about them, she said that when she was growing up, one of the oldest of seven very poor children, all she ever wanted was a big old candy bar all to her self. And now that she can afford them, she buys them because she can. But only when they are on sale.

    Let me just stop here and say I would never have a stash of Snickers. Not because I’m not one to “stock up” on a commodity as precious as that, but because in order to have a stash I would have to have at least enough restraint not to eat them all. Whenever I get my hands on a Snickers bar, I chew off the paper with my teeth and then I toss it up in the air. And then I roll on it until I get the scent of Snickers on my neck. And then finally, I lay on the floor on my tummy with my feet out behind me and I gnaw on it and growl at anyone who looks my direction. So when she offered me one, I declined just to avoid that whole scene.

    Anyway, apparently Aunt Jean really wanted her own liter of Diet Cherry 7-Up when she was growing too because when she sent me out to the garage to get something out of the extra refrigerator, I was confronted with an imposing wall of Diet Cherry 7-Up. When I asked her about it she said that Albertson’s had a super duper sale on them a while back, but it was limit two. “My goodness!” I said, “Limit two!? How on earth did you get so many?”

    “Well, you know,” she said her voice trailing off. “I went to the store and I bought two.” She paused here to lightly pat her hair into place and then stretched her neck as though working out a kink. And then she evasively looked up and off to the left at nothing in particular. “And?” I asked. “Well, then I went home and…. I chaaaaanged clothes…. (cough) andthenIwentbackfortwomore (cough).”

    In case you didn’t know, it’s in the fine print on the back of the bottles. In order to legally purchase two additional liters of Limit Two soda, you must have changed clothes. And not just in the car either. You must go home and change into a completely different color blouse. If we were to look at the grocery store surveillance video the week Diet Cherry 7-Up is on sale we would see my good and proper Aunt Jean wearing dark sunglasses, going in and out of the store carrying two liters of Diet Cherry 7-Up at a time. And you might think the video was on a loop until upon closer inspection you would see that she had changed clothes making it totally legal.

    I then did a quick calculation in my head — four trips a day, four changes of clothes for seven days at which time limit two expires. And sure enough it adds up to a stash of enough Diet Cherry 7-Up that should last until the rapture at which time we will all be caught up in the air toasting the brethren with Diet Cherry 7-Up and Snickers.

    And oh what a day of rejoicing it will be. 

    * * * * *

    This post was originally published in February of 2007.

    The following is an excerpt from a recent email AD received from Aunt Jean:

    “Tell AM that Albertson’s is having a special on their sugar this weekend and the limit is one. That leaves me with a problem. I am out of sugar and would like more than one bag.  I am considering several changes of clothes but I will have to change in the parking lot. If I drove home to change, the cost of gasoline would cancel out my savings on the sugar.  Life has it’s problems. But I love you anyway.  Love, Aunt Jean.”

    My Aunt Jean cracks me up. Gotta love Tuna where clipping coupons is an investment strategy.

    Nonagenarian

    March 17, 2008

    This weekend we celebrated Aunt Jean’s 90th birthday.  Don’t even try to keep up with this woman unless you’ve got rollers skates — she’s on the computer, she’s up on all the news, she’s on comittees, she’s on the go all the time. 

    Someone at the party commented that if they make it to 90, they just hoped they could get around as well she does.  I said I didn’t care if I could get around at all, I just wanted to be that stylish. 

    I asked her to what she owed her longevity and she said good genetics, good attitude and good diet.  And by good diet, she means plenty of Diet Cherry 7-Up and Snickers.  And the occasional Braum’s ice cream cone.

    Happy Birthday Aunt Jean! 

    Happy Birthday Aunt Jean!

    March 16, 2007

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    Forget the fancy skin creams and vitamins. The secret to living to be 89 and beyond and looking fabulous is as follows:

    1. Snickers
    2. Diet Cherry 7-Up

    3. Don’t waste time cleaning switch plates

    Photo: Aunt Jean on the right and her baby sister (my mother-in-law) Cleo on the left

    Limit Two Protocol

    February 7, 2007

    When I was at my Aunt Jean’s house a while back, I noticed that while she didn’t keep canned goods in the bathroom, she did have a stash of probably 25 or 30 giant Snickers bars. In the kitchen that is, not the bathroom. And it wasn’t even Halloween.

    It was surprising to see so many candy bars because you never see her eat anything like that. Aunt Jean is tall and thin and regal and dignified and not given to self-indulgence. When I asked her about them, she said that when she was growing up, one of the oldest of seven very poor children, all she ever wanted was a big old candy bar all to her self. And now that she can afford them, she buys them because she can. But only when they are on sale.

    Let me just stop here and say I would never have a stash of Snickers. Not because I’m not one to “stock up” on a commodity as precious as that, but because in order to have a stash I would have to have at least enough restraint not to eat them all. Whenever I get my hands on a Snickers bar, I chew off the paper with my teeth and then I toss it up in the air. And then I roll on it until I get the scent of Snickers on my neck. And then finally, I lay on the floor on my tummy with my feet out behind me and I gnaw on it and growl at anyone who looks my direction. So when she offered me one, I declined just to avoid that whole scene.

    Anyway, apparently Aunt Jean really wanted her own liter of Diet Cherry 7-Up when she was growing too because when she sent me out to the garage to get something out of the extra refrigerator, I was confronted with an imposing wall of Diet Cherry 7-Up. When I asked her about it she said that Albertson’s had a super duper sale on them a while back, but it was limit two. “My goodness!” I said, “Limit two!? How on earth did you get so many?”

    “Well, you know,” she said her voice trailing off. “I went to the store and I bought two.” She paused here to lightly pat her hair into place and then stretched her neck as though working out a kink. And then she evasively looked up and off to the left at nothing in particular. “And?” I asked. “Well, then I went home and…. I chaaaaanged clothes…. (cough) andthenIwentbackfortwomore (cough).”

    In case you didn’t know, it’s in the fine print on the back of the bottles. In order to legally purchase two additional liters of Limit Two soda, you must have changed clothes. And not just in the car either. You must go home and change into a completely different color blouse. If we were to look at the grocery store surveillance video the week Diet Cherry 7-Up is on sale we would see my good and proper Aunt Jean wearing dark sunglasses, going in and out of the store carrying two liters of Diet Cherry 7-Up at a time. And you might think the video was on a loop until upon closer inspection you would see that she had changed clothes making it totally legal.

    I then did a quick calculation in my head — four trips a day, four changes of clothes for seven days at which time limit two expires. And sure enough it adds up to a stash of enough Diet Cherry 7-Up that should last until the rapture at which time we will all be caught up in the air toasting the brethren with Diet Cherry 7-Up and Snickers.

    And oh what a day of rejoicing it will be.

    It’s Not A Party Without Properly Cleaned Switchplates

    November 26, 2006

    If you’ve been reading this blog very long, you know that Antique Daddy and I are both kind of obsessive compulsive. He is an obsessive wiper downer and I’m obsessive about orderliness. It would probaby be okay if we just limited this brand of craziness to our own house, but we don’t. And that makes us delightful house guests. If you want your bathroom linen closet rearranged and wiped down.

    Over Thanksgiving we stayed with Aunt Jean who is in her mid-80s. Her schedule rivals that of Condoleeza Rice. The woman is busy and does not have time to be bothered with a misfolded towel or a water spot on the counter. Enter the Antiques.

    The day after Thanksgiving, Aunt Jean hosted the annual gathering of the cousins. About 35 people descended upon her house like a horde of pimento cheese-eating locusts. Since we were staying with her, we “helped” her get ready for the gathering. By helped I mean that I arranged the sandwich tray so that it was symmetrical and Antique Daddy wiped down everything.

    The next morning as we were eating breakfast, we basked in the glory of the success of the event. Aunt Jean agreed. “Yes indeed,” she said, “The party was a big success and I think we owe it all the fact that Antique Daddy unscrewed all the switch plates and wiped behind them.”

    Zing! Oh to be so quick and snarky. I bow at her feet and pray that my son might have inherited some of her DNA. And that just a smidge might rub off on me by proximity.

    Hangin’ With Aunt Jean

    October 4, 2006

    One of the best things about marrying Antique Daddy was that his Aunt Jean came with the package.

    Aunt Jean is 88 and gives octogenarians a good name. She keeps a schedule that would wear out a 20-year-old, keeps up with current events, emails and surfs the internet and is on more committees and belongs to more groups than I can count. She is funny and graceful and dignified in a Katherine Hepburn sort of way. She’s too busy to be bothered with being old. And when I grow up I want to be just like her.

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    We recently spent the night at her house and sent her an email thanking her for her hospitality and got this response back:

    “The pleasure was all mine. It was a treat to have you hanging with me. It was wonderful to hear Sean calling me by name. I tried to visualize that little four pound baby doll growing up to call my name. I have never heard my name sound so good.”

    She’s the genuine article. And she makes the best pimento cheese. Ever. And I’m lucky just to get to hang with her once in a while and tell people she’s my aunt.

    PHOTO: Aunt Jean looking in on brand new 4-pound Sean.