External Photo Clues:
It slipped from Aunt Cathleen’s Bible, fluttering delicately to the old rose rug – it was her favorite back in the day. I just stared…the picture was very familiar…OK…I remember…Oh yes, I remember….
Auntie Cathleen was livid. The hatred in her stare, her long gloved fingers clutched in such tight fist. Cold chills run up my arms and I actually shivered thinking back. She had refused to even look at the camera…Yep she was ready to fight.
She had come to take me away, again….She being my Mother and on her fifth marriage. This one like the others was “the one”….”her prince charming”…. If I had known about such things back then I would have said, “Mother you don’t have to get married just to have sex…” Whoa, what an uproar that would have caused. In 1939 that would have been sacrilegious words. You did not know your mate in the intimate manner until you were married. Now-a-day couples do…as my Auntie Cathleen would say it, “sleep together” before the wedding night.
I turned 79 years old today and I believe I have arrived at the age where I can say the things out loud that I only use to think…That’s one of the perks of getting old and senile. I can now say it and no one is really shocked. Oh, they pretend they are but most of the time their glad someone just come out and said it.
Mother was raised by a very strict, religious mother. I now think in marrying so many times she just wanted someone’s approval and love. Mother said Grandmother was not a loving person, but I always had the best of times at Grandmother’s house. She and Granddad loved me. They spoiled me and I knew I was loved. Mother told me Grandmother was even strict in her hygiene. Mother could not shave her legs or under her arms, and the only time she got to use store bought feminine products was if they were on vacation. That being the once a year trip to see the ole ones in Tennessee.
Oh, yes the picture. Auntie Cathleen was not about to let me be taken from her again. This was a regular ritual with my mother. Every time she married she would come get me and then every time she divorced she would drive by and dump me with my brown paper bag of clothes on Auntie Cathleen’s porch.
Auntie Cathleen was my grandmother’s sister. She loved me and spoiled me just as she promised Grandmother she would. Grandmother and Granddad had been gone at that time a little over 2 years. I talked with them regularly. I never heard them talk back, but I knew they were close by.
You see those two windows on the second floor? That was my bedroom. Those windows faced the east and in that special little alcove Auntie Cathleen had arranged a small seating area just for me. She said I could have my quiet time and watch glorious sunrises every morning. That meant that I was to read my Bible, and pray before I got my day started.
She and I would have the most wonderful tea parties. What fun we had, my teddy bear, Mr. Pendergast, in one chair, Grandmother’s knitting needles in another and Granddad’s pipe in another. When we were all seated Auntie Cathleen would serve tea and fresh baked buttery orange cranberry scones. We would talk about anything I wanted. Sometimes my questions were quiet deep for a child my age. I was 7 going on 16, but Auntie Cathleen was never shocked and she never admonished me for being so inquisitive.
I get a little sidetracked; back again to the photograph. Mother, the other woman in the picture, was attempting to get on Auntie’s good side by insisting on a picture being taken of her and Auntie Cathleen, but Auntie Cathleen would have none of it. The picture was not a success and mother asks to speak privately in the parlor. As we all walked into the house Mother grabbed me by my ponytail and told me to go play. I knew something was about to take place. Auntie Cathleen would never have shooed me out of a room. So I took it upon myself to slip behind those heavy red curtains. Auntie Cathleen, being a lady of refined manners asks if mother wanted ice tea and mother accepted. As Auntie Cathleen walked by the curtain she adjusted the hem of the heavy curtain around my shoes…so now I was totally hid.
I was getting very warm, and my toes were getting pinched in my Mary Jane’s, but I stood there while they chatted and drank tea. Then I heard the craziest thing I thought I had ever heard my mother say. She ask if Auntie Cathleen would lend her 3,000 dollars. This was so that she and Albert could move to Memphis and if things went well she would be back to get me. Auntie Cathleen told mother that she would give her the money, but she wanted adoption papers drawn up so I could remain in her home and that mother could just keep moving on. Now here was the crazy part: mother said okay. Not even hesitating. Then she got up, walked over to the curtain where I was, paused and said to me, goodbye Anna Belle, and continued to walk out the door. I heard the door slam shut, a car leaving and then silence…Auntie Cathleen called my name and I stepped out from behind the curtain, she grab me up in her arms swung me around and hugged me tight. She said, “Let’s go get ice cream. What flavor do you want Anna Belle? I am a mind to get strawberry this evening.”
About The Author:
Vickie Gaither is a single mom, having 2 grown daughters. Vickie has been divorced 13 years and has been the sole supporter of this little family of 3. They having only each other to depend on are very close. Vickie says God has given her the job of her dreams. It has supported them comfortably and has put the oldest thru college at OU with a bachelor degree and the youngest is in her senior year at ECU. Vickie is very proud of their accomplishments as a family and as individuals. She says she has a big imagination and could easily teach daydreaming 101.
Authoring For The Imaginary Family Project:
Are you interested in “finding” one of our lost vintage photos by authoring a story?
Please visit this link:
Imaginary Family Project Author Request Form
About The Imaginary Family Project:
The 2011 Imaginary Family Project is a year-long collective art endeavor coordinated by occasional amateur artist Quentin Bomgardner and co-sponsored by The Red Dirt Chronicles. This project is based around “lost” vintage photographs, which have been acquired at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, and eBay – heirloom collections, with no heir. Every week a different author will “find” one photograph by creating an imagined history around one of its subjects. At the end of the year, the collection will be compiled and presented as a group.