Let me know if you are the least bit intrigued. I have a terrible sense of barking up the wrong tree with my writing today.
My mother liked to say that she and her cousin Rosemarie had been switched when they were babies. She and Rosemarie were only two weeks apart and were often left together with Gladys.
Gladys was their grandmother (on her mother’s side), owned a half dozen cats, fed a dozen more when they wandered into her house, and made two lemon meringue pies a day most days. She also suffered from mental illness that would probably be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s today.
That didn’t mean that my mother, her brothers, or her cousins didn’t like her. It didn’t mean that she wasn’t capable of taking care of her granddaughters when they were just babies. But it did give my mother a story to tell and a way to explain why she was nothing like her own mother while her cousin was nearly identical.
My mother also used to like to say that she was the love child of her father’s sister, Agatha. For perspective, she was born during the war. Not what we call wars now, where you spend your days on Facebook and occasionally see a post about supporting troops. I mean World War II when the entire country shared in the sacrifice.
My Great Aunt Agatha lived in New York City during the 40s and 50s and was on the front lines of feminism. She worked in the man’s world alongside of the men and gave them what-for. You didn’t mess with Agatha. I never thought much of it while she was alive, but now I wonder if she spent her life as a spinster because no man was brave enough to sign up for a life sentence with her.
When I knew Agatha I was a small boy and she had retired to the country. I used to play in her gardens and explore the old barn that had come with her manor home. For her part, she paid top dollar for me to sharpen her pencils (always in short supply thanks to the crossword in the Times) and move stacks of books from one big room to another.
I loved her very much.
When I first heard my mother talk about being her daughter I thought it was another crazy story. But they were very close. And my mother was much like her. Except my mother didn’t pay me top dollar for anything.