Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)
TITLE: A Tribute To Aunt Lilly
By Karen McCabe
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Aunt Lilly was mine.
We had barely passed the newlywed stage when we moved in next door to her, still renting but it was our first "house."
I tried hard to be a perfect wife. Actually, I was trying to excel my mother - a feat impossible for anyone to accomplish. We had rented the small two-bedroom house that simply by virtue encouraged the homemaker in me.
My mother had planted fruit trees - plum, peach and pear in her large back yard, and made her famous plum preserves every year. So, in order to out-do her, I tried my hand at a small garden in our back yard. I had a grandiose idea of canning all our vegetable needs for the year even though I knew absolutely nothing about the process.
That's how I came to know Aunt Lilly. She would hail me down when I was out back tending my "garden." We would meet at the fence and chat for a while. A small, stocky woman with her gray, thinning hair pulled back in a bun and the classic apron around her waist, protecting her house dress which was the typical garb of older pioneer-type women of the day. She would ask me about my garden and try to help me with her 75-year-plus wisdom.
"Honey," she called me, "carrots won't grow very long when you plant them over the water line. They need depth to get long." She was kind to my obvious ignorance.
I so appreciated her extensive knowledge about vegetable gardening. "Potatoes need to be planted in mounds and if you really want tomatoes, you have to thin out the seedlings."
Aunt Lilly had a radiance about her that gave her an aura of sweetness but she also had a distinctive barnyard scent.
Aunt Lilly loved animals. Her home became a safe-haven for all sorts of wounded, homeless wanderers. I never counted how many various dogs, cats, ducks and geese she sheltered but I often wondered if she had room for herself in her bed at night.
She asked my husband and me once if we would like to come in for some iced tea. But, alas, dinner was on the stove and I had to tend to it. On any given warm, breezy day we could detect the strong animal smell emanating from inside her house - a deterrent from any desire to visit.
She loved to tell stories. Her parents had brought her from somewhere in Oklahoma to Texas in a covered wagon. I was in the presence of a true pioneer. They settled in Sherman long before the Air Force Base brought in people from all over the country, the reason we were there. Her sister and she had ridden in the back of the wagon, watching where they had come from but never able to see where they were going. She told tales of Indians following them and the dry, parched countryside with cattle wandering around looking for some grass to munch on.
I guess she never married but enjoyed her sister's family a great deal. That's why she was "Aunt Lilly."
I remember she was a sweet old lady with many stories to tell of a by-gone era. She loved the Lord. And she filled up her loneliness with His needy creatures that adored her.
And so did we.
Some people leave an imprint on your heart - nothing really special but permanent.
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