Monday, March 28, 2011


Aunt Lera is the last one left of the four sisters. Lera is 97 years old, still crappie fishes and plays bridge 4 days a week (a Grand Master I believe), has had three bypasses, still smokes a pack a day and seems to be able to dare the Devil and win. She suffers no fools and pulls no punches. She is a kind and Christian woman, in a Joyce Myers kind of way.
Just don't get on her wrong side.
I can remember when I was a kid that somehow I had had a key made for her car after my parents had started watching the mileage on theirs rather closely, and on Saturday nights during the summer of 1971 I would slide noiselessly out the back door and walk to Lera's car, then meet up with my other 14 year old pals in the middle of the night, and we would joy ride and smoke Swisher Sweets and I knew of a certain window that if you knocked on it at 2 a.m. a couple 14 year old chicks would come crawling out, and its off to Devils Backbone to make out.
When finally I was caught and had to give the key back to Lera and try to explain what the heck I was doing with a key for her car, I don't rememeber anything except her bright and burning blue eyes and pursed lips. It was the eyes, eyes that blazed and could have melted steel with their intensity.
Anyway, I talked to Lera on the phone last night. I told her how well I am doing, and how great it is to be clean and sober for two and a half years.
'We tried to tell you" she shrieked over the phone.
So then I told her about my son, about the way he struggles with addiction too, and how he has been in and out of a few Rehabs, and jail too, and that when he gets out this next time he will have 5 months clean and hopefully he will work a program of recovery, and I saw him this weekend and he sounds real good.
"He's just like you, yes he sure enough is"-her shrill voice sounds almost pleased to say it.
Then she asks about my sister Lisa, and I can't help it, I have come this far I may as well tell the truth:
"Well, Lisa, she isn't doing so well. She is having some bouts with Multiple Sclerosis, thats what they think it is, and Fibromyalgia too, and of course her allergies are bad, and she hurt her foot and she has had to take a Disability leave from work, and she has all these symptoms and its hard to tell sometimes what is real and whats in her mind".
Lera didn't fire right back, there was a moments pause, and I thought for just a second that maybe, just maybe Lera might cut Lisa some slack. But no. I could almost see the blue eyes ablaze, just like the day I handed back her car key as she cackled out the words:
"She has always been that way"

And she is perfectly right too, lisa has always been that way. Anyway, I love Lera I do, and she can't help that she has gotten very old, and that she knows us all so well, or that she doesn't favor changing her voice and demeanor just to pander to us kinfolk. She's a one of a kind, and I hate to think her days are numbered; she has been dying from the same heart attack for 30 years. She is a woman of strength and faith, and she know her mind and I'll miss knowing she is out there.
Gobless Aunt Lera.


Norma said...

I have an Aunt Dot and she sounds very much like Aunt Lera; but I could never write about her as eloquently as you have.

bulletholes said...

I think everyone has an Aunt like Lera. She always reminded me of an old monkee's song..."Your Auntie Grizzelda". Did you know that song?
Thanks for stopping by Norma!

Kim said...

I know the monkees song but I never really had an aunt or uncle. You folks with your big extended families can't imagine what its like to grow up with only nuclear family.
I did love to sneak out though...nothing more thrilling than being out in the middle of the night hanging out with hoodlums.