Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Witty Professor

Okay, she's also a bit Nutty but at age 97, she's totally allowed, don't you think!

Auntie Sue. Last living relative from the generation above us. Born June 28, 1910. The 6-1/2-year-older sister of my dad.

My 1033-mile round trip from Atlanta to Bridgewater, VA, on Monday and Tuesday was well worth the 3-1/2 hours I spent with her. A handful of weeks ago she was on her deathbed, refusing food, drink and meds, except for Morphine. We thought we had lost her. So I made the decision to go see her "one last time," opting out for now rather than later at her funeral, in case it happens while I'm in Amsterdam.

But after being with her those 3-1/2 hours, we may have one stubborn aunt who decides to live to 100!

Now, pay attention. Think of anyone you know who almost never cracks a smile but everyone around is breaking up in stitches, laughing. That's Auntie Sue. Look carefully. That's a smile on her face and is about as big of a smile as you'd get at even half her age.

There it is again. So what is it about her?! Why does everyone in our family want to be around her. Why does she crack everyone up!

As I sat next to her recliner, facing her the entire time, it started hitting me what it is. For 3-1/2 hours there was not one minute of silence between us. If I wasn't talking, she was talking. I'd give her a chance to be quiet but she'd pop right in with something else.

After awhile, I started really paying attention to what she was saying and then it hit me. Her speech is loaded with witticisms. Things we don't normally hear in everyday speech. Or maybe we do, but when they come out of her genteel southern drawl, they just sound magical.

Pay attention. When her hand goes up to her forehead, something pretty important is ready to come out of her mouth.

Her mouth gets warmed up...

...and out it comes.

Oh yes, she then puts her stamp of approval on it...

...and that reminds her of something else.

During her 'nutty' times, you could see it in her eyes. She looked at her bed and wondered who had slept in IT last night. She said, "I'm going to have the time of my life working up this room tomorrow! I'm not too sure but I may call it quits here."

But then just like that, she'd turn to me and say "No one will have to rock YOU to sleep tonight" (remembering that I had just driven from Atlanta!).

She wanted to know what that monstrosity was in front of my face and I told her it was my camera. "Well, I sure hope I don't break THAT!" (HA! Me, too!)

Then off onto something else, like, "You know, when I was in the hospital, I remember seeing on TV that Ruth Graham was sick. Did she die?" I told her yes, but that Billy was still alive. "Well, he'll be next!"

Every time she went into this hand-over-face mode, I thought she was getting ready to nod off to sleep.

But no, a second later she'd rub her eyes and remember something new to say.

As I sat there, I took out a piece of paper and started writing things down....

A friend walked by the room with her walker and A.S said, "We've had our ups and downs, back-n-forths, and so on and so forth," and I thought, WOW. What better way to describe friendship!

"Fiddle sticks!.... Boy! I'm telling you!.... I can't keep up with everyone [when I told her about the different kids in the family].... I nearly dropped my teeth when I saw it this time [the dining room refurbished].... Turn about's fair play.... I had enough traveling last month. They sent me to Panama. I wouldn't have gone on my own [telling about having to go see the Army at the high school last month].... You can always do it but you can't un-do it!.... I've had every speck I want.... Now the thing that bothers me.... How in the world.... I was interested in it but not enough to worry about it. I don't know if you know that about me, that I don't worry very much...."

"Talking about that Army business.... I was the first to get on. What am I trying to say? They grouped us all together. We had a time. It was really something. They did such-n-such...."

"It always has been and, I'm sure, always will be a puzzle to me...."

At one point she wanted to know how many more grandGIRLS there were vs. grandBOYS by now. I did some quick math and came up with 22 g'girls and 16 g'boys. Her immediate response was "SIX!" Then she added, "I can't count." HA! The thing is, she CAN. Later she told me that all that used to be important to her was "NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS." When I said she was a mathematician and that that was unusual for girls in her time, she said, "Oh, not for me. I was all about numbers."

She told me that last month she really went through the wringer. "I wouldn't ever want to do that again if my life depended on it!"

"They do have good food here. There's no joke about that!"

"I can't even remember when.... I have no idea.... I started to say something.... I don't know.... Boy, I'll tell ya.... All I know is.... I don't know what I'm talking about. What am I trying to say.... I might as well shut up!"

NO NO NO, Aunty Sue. Please don't ever shut up. PLEASE DON'T EVER SHUT UP.


  1. Hi Ginnie, this is a very touching post about an old and respected auntie. Theire stories is so important to bring further down the generations.

    You have as allways posted wonderful pictures.

    PS. We are in Amsterdam this weekend.


  2. Oh, she's just AMAZING! And how wonderful that you really did get to see her again and were able to record her thoughts. When she does go I'm sure she'll be held in loving memory by all of you.

  3. Ohh, thank you for every photo. I wish you could relay her VOICE here, that deep, rich, strong voice, and the beautiful, lilting Virginia accent. She's precious, and this post captures that. Bless you.

  4. oh wow - how entertaining...

    And what I can't believe is how much you documented it all...

    all of the pics, all of the quotes..

    So cool, so wonderful!

  5. u are awesome, runs in the family i guess, coz ur aunt is no different!

  6. Tor: We need these stories, yes, and need to keep them in our hearts for all the generations to come. Thanks. I'm so sorry I'll be missing you in A'dam this weekend! So close but so far! :(

    Christina: Truer words were never spoken. Thanks.

    Ruth: I took a total of 89 pics of her face and couldn't decide what ones to keep to show. In the end, I decided I had to show her myriad expressions. What a woman! I wish I could have recorded her voice as well!

    ET: It was pure delight! All of it.

    Moi: Ohhhh, dear lady. Your words have touched be compared. Thank you.

  7. Now that is a wise woman, she has so much wisdom written all over her face. I love that you were able to capture her expressions and memories.

  8. Ginnie,

    I am very glad you were able to make this trip. I think these will be memories of Auntie Sue that you will have to cherish for many years to come.

  9. L&N: Wise and funny! And yes, I feel very lucky to have seen her one more time!

    Donica: I totally agree, Honey. Thanks for knowing how important this was to me.

  10. Glorious, I have never met her, and for some reason so much you tell me reminds me of my visits to G'ma Hart when she was wacky. I loved listening to her talk. I wished others would be so free in their communication.

    Thanks for sharing- now I have a face and smile to put with her name.

  11. Now there's a lady who has seen lot's of life and still talks about it! Great pictures, what a character. I bet she keeps the nursing staff in stitches!
    It's my ambition to be just like her. My sons say I'm going to live to be 104 and drive everyone nuts. I'll do my best.

  12. That's great, Ginnie! What a character she is. I'm glad you captured it on camera! And she seems to remember Panama!

  13. Ex-S: You are so right! I'm not sure I want to live to be that old but if I do, I hope I'll be just like her!

    RRD: I sure would like to know what that Panama/Army business was all about! Who will ever know! Thanks, Stacey.

  14. What a characater! Make sure you take good notes!

  15. Great notes and photos. She's a classic as my husband would say.

  16. Absolutely AWSOME, Ginnie. What a character she is! I'm happy that you decided to see her. The photos really show a lady with an incredible charisma, full of memories and thoughts to share. In a way, she reminds me of my Grandma in her last days. Beautiful!

  17. Hallo, on a Sunday Morning. Still in Amsterdam, we are.
    How's life? You have such a great family around.

  18. Hi ginnie

    I like this GREAT post.
    About the background on my blog, it is not a regular template and you have to change the HTML code to make it like this. Maybe it is not very complicated but it depends on how much you know about HTML, I'm no expert and it took some time to find out how to do it. But you can't do it with the blogger templates that is why not many bloggers have their own background I think.


  19. CS: Yes, I, too, am so glad I went! I'll never forget this memory of her.

    Tor: And to think I'm here in Atlanta while you're there in A'dam! Arrgh!

    Dick: Thanks for stopping by. Wish HTML was easy for me but it's not. Hmmm. I still like your template--one of the best!

  20. This are great shots of your mom, and how you write... wow its very difficault for me (us Dutch) to write the same way in English, I understand what you say, her thoughts, its wonderfull Ginnie! Great well done its also for later a great memory but she will get 100 I can believe that:)

  21. This was such a treat to read and see your awesome Aunt's expressions. Thanks for sharing your very special moments with us. I admire how well you've captured so much of her.

  22. JoAnn. She's my aunt, my deceased father's sister, but you got the right generation. :) I won't be surprised at all if she decides to hang on till 100!

    Mad: Thank you so much! Your words are very meaningful to me!

  23. I wish i had a chance to meet her. She seem'd so special.