The year was 1996. It was my second or third visit to my future in-laws and shortly after Earl’s “big announcement”. Said announcement included the fact that the buddy he brought along the preceding Labor Day was more than a buddy, not only did we bounced bellies at football games but we bounced bellies (amongst other things) in bed too.
Anyway, it was a family gathering of some sort and I was meeting everyone for the first time; cousins, aunts, uncles, all sorts of relatives from all branches of the family tree were mangling my initials in all sorts of ways. I didn’t mind, I figured all was well if they were speaking to me and not spitting on me. I guess I’m easy to please.
Earl introduced me to a short, wild haired woman who looked like she really knew how to live life. “Hey Glad-ie”, he said to her before introducing me, “This is my Aunt Sissy.”
Aunt Sissy. At 73 or so years old at the time she was obviously the free spirit the cover of her book portrayed; she’d been through three husbands, three continents, countless bingo cards and an unmeasurable number of cigarettes. Her stature was short but her heart was obviously big. She grabbed my face and pulled it down to her face and gave me a big kiss on the lips, “Hello John!”. We have a winner, she got my name right.
She turned to Earl. “I hear you got a new car!” Earl had just bought a Hyundai Elantra.
“Is it a convertible?”, she barked out. Aunt Sissy always talked loud.
“I had a convertible once. A FRENCH convertible”, she said. “The top doesn’t go down but the driver does.”
Aunt Sissy shared that story, amongst a bunch of others, with us several times for next 12 years.
Last night we made the trek down to near Philadelphia to attend Aunt Sissy’s memorial service. She was 84 years old. She died of lung cancer.
Rest In Peace, Aunt Sissy. Enjoy the ride in your new convertible.