I’ve written a lot about my mother and sometimes about my sister Joni but today is different. Did you know it’s Aunt and Uncle Day?
Everyone might say they had the best Aunts and Uncles, but I know I did. We had a close-knit family with families living next to each other, sometimes with each other, and cousins growing up together as friends.
There were parties, picnics, and sleepovers. My sister and our cousin Jamie were born within months of each other and shared the same crib. Why? Because our two families lived in the same house at that time. Later, the two families lived next door and Jamie and Joni went to school together, were each other’s dance partners, and graduated together.
We all had cousins who were our age and if it wasn’t a first, it was a second (or is that 1st once removed? I don’t know! It didn’t matter, they were all my cousins.)
Most of us spent a week or two living at another Aunt and Uncle’s house.
But the Aunt and Uncle I was closest to lived next door. Auntie Flor and Uncle Jim. After my grandmother died, they bought her house and raised their family there. Our two houses and shared yards became the picnic destination for our families.
Between the pool in our yard; badminton and horseshoes in the empty lot, and cribbage and setback and food in their yard, we had picnic time covered.
But it was the day to day that I really remember and look back on. Roaming the gardens and feeding the birds with Aunt Flor, Uncle Jim dropping me off for school, learning to knit (and then giving it up) with Auntie Flor, riding up to the castle with Uncle Jim and one of my cousins.
One of my fondest memories of Uncle Jim came when he had to take me to the emergency room and listen to my screaming while I got stitches. Growing up with two older brothers, there was bound to be blood and screaming.
It happened because we were doing what we shouldn’t have been doing (isn’t that always the way?) We had a clothesline that went from the porch to a tree in our back yard. One of us would hold on to one side and the other would jump up and grab the other side and run off the hill while holding the line which resulted in the other person getting a ride across the yard.
Worked great, if the other person grabbed the correct line and sent you flying across the yard. But this time, my brother grabbed the wrong line and sent me backward and my finger jammed into the pulley. He even pulled on the line a couple of more times because he didn’t understand why it was stuck!
By the time my fingers were removed from the pulley, my forefinger was sliced open at both knuckles. Since our parents were out (the reason why we were doing something we were told not to) my brother ran and got Uncle Jim to take me to the hospital. But before he did that, we all agreed on the story that would be told.
We made up this story about how I jumped off the picnic table and my hand hit the hard metal bow rake that was lying tine-up on the ground. It made no sense because how would the top of my hand get cut open and the tines on the rake were further apart than my knuckles. But we were stupid. And I was crying in pain so Uncle Jim didn’t press the issue.
He took me to the emergency room, probably embarrassed by all the screaming I did over 3 small stitches into my knuckles. Then brought me home and wanted to hear our story again.
He brought all three of us back out to the picnic table and kept asking all of us to walk him through how I jumped off the table and how I landed on the rake to cut my hand. He never believed us, but he also never came out and said that he didn’t believe us.
One thing is certain – we never played on the clothesline pulley again.