I had an elderly Aunt who never married and was a bit incompetent as she made
her way through life. Various family members took turns watching over her and now it
was my turn. I tried to explain about her eccentric ways to my three sons’ ages 5 to 15,
when she came to stay with us for a while. But a day after she came we got a picture we
all still remember. Aunt Nonie believed that anything she did was normal and the rest of the world was out of step. I could never be sure what to expect when she was around.
However no matter how confused, she acted, she could be funny and lovable like a teddy
bear with one ear chewed off. So even though she could be difficult, I loved her. She
often said I was the only one in the family who understood her, which gave me a lot to
think about. Aunt Nonie had always been accepted by all in the family, not as crazy exactly, instead more of an eccentric but harmless. No one or nothing had ever changed her and as she got older we all gave up.
So I was not surprised when my son, Sammy came into my bedroom yelling, “Mom do you know what Aunt Nonie is doing? Mom you got to do something.”
He dragged me to the kitchen window and there she was in the side yard in the bright Florida sun, hanging her underwear on the clothesline right next door to our neighbor and in full view of the street with nothing on but a clear plastic raincoat. The two younger ones ran to the window and started yelling too. I stifle a smile. That was so typical of her naive nature but also, at this moment, very disturbing to my sons. I began to wonder if I had taken Aunt Nonie’s eccentric ways too much for granted, just accepting without really seeing as my husband had said.
My sons were frantically shouting for me to do something so I went out and wrapped a blanket around Aunt Nonie and rushed us both inside past the kids. In the bedroom I tried to explain to her about public nudity around the children and neighbors but her reply was, “The sun felt so good. I am usually cold all the time up north even in the summer. The sun is my reward” Then she tapped a trembling kiss on my forehead as her eyes sparkled to life. “Adam and Eve were naked in the garden you know.”
The next morning she appeared in the kitchen in her bathing suit and sunglasses while I was struggling to get through my first cup of coffee.
“Where are you going so early?” I asked.
“Going out in the backyard and get my sunshine reward. I earned it”
“How?” I was naive enough to ask.
“I prayed for eight years that you would move to Florida.,” she said as she let the screen door slam behind her.
I think my Aunt Nonie is crazy like a fox.