HomeFeatured WritersHappy Mother’s Day Aunt Millie!

Happy Mother’s Day Aunt Millie!

Happy Mother’s Day Aunt Millie!

Adopted relatives. We all have them. Allen, my late husband, had his Aunt Rose. She lived across the street in Feltonville and came to Allen’s rescue the many times he ended up in the principal’s office. He wasn’t a bad kid, just full of personality. His parents were busy working, but Aunt Rose, who had no children of her own, was a second mother to Allen. I never met her, but always heard stories fondly recounted.

My brother, Neal, sister, Michele and I had Aunt Millie. My mother literally picked her up on a street corner one wickedly stormy day in Folsom, PA. The way my mother told it, Aunt Millie was leaving the grocery store and was totally exposed to the elements. My mother saw her drenched body and offered her a ride home; a stranger. Those were the days when you would consider doing this sort of thing. P.S. My mother always said I brought home “strays.” Only now do I realize where I got this habit!!

Anyway, we lived in Ridley Park at the time. An old established community near Prospect Park and Folsom… not too far from Swarthmore and Chester. Our home was big, mansion-like, very early on my grandfather and grandmother lived with us. That was before Aunt Millie entered the picture.
Aunt Millie was married to Uncle Eddie. He was a hard drinking barber who didn’t want children. So, Aunt Millie became the mother of her extended family including lots of nieces and nephews. We always heard news of what they were doing. They were a bit older than us.

I can remember it like today. She had a hoarse, gravelly voice, the result of her heavy smoking. I think it was Camels that she smoked. She was rail thin, loved to fish and most of all she could sew… EVERYTHING. She and my mother became inseparable and in return, we, Neal, Michele and I, acquired a devoted Aunt.

I remember with every changing season and inch grown, Aunt Millie would have us stand at attention as she would prep alterations on our growing bodies. Those billowing skirts, which I hated, took what felt like hours to measure. As she pinned the hems, I would pray that the session would end. I remember her cautioning my mother not to make my brother’s pants too fitted in his private area as to not disrupt or impede anything that was going on while he was growing and developing! P.S. I thought of the same thing as my son Gabe grew up and now think of the same thing with my grandson, Yosef!!!

She designed the most beautiful costumes for a set of dolls she gave us. Remember Zorro? She made a Zorro doll with black cape, red cumberbund belt and sword for my brother. Of course, she made a senorita for me; crimson-red dress, black lace mantilla included. Michele got the bride and bridesmaid set along with a dapper groom. Yes, she was the girly-girl in our family, I was the gypsy!!!

Most of all, along with my mother, she designed practical, one of a kind “stuff.” My father had a habit of getting food on his ties during dinner, before he returned to his office. She designed the proverbial bib that we all wore through our teen years. I still have one or two. She and my mother designed what were called “clamdiggers” for my father to wear down the shore. Very European! He was the best dressed gentleman on the boardwalk during his walks with my mother. And, yes, Mom had matching clamdiggers in multiple colors. Remember this was, should I say, at least 60 years ago!! Scary!!! And to this day, I wear two of the aprons she made for my mother.

One time, my parents went away for a short time. We were left in the hands of a nanny. Aunt Millie would come to check in on us. She wasn’t happy with what was going on at home, sent the nanny away and stepped in to take care of us until my parents returned. She was a special lady in many ways.

As a family, we were lucky it rained so bad that day long ago. We were lucky my mother took mercy on someone struggling in that bad weather. We were lucky that Aunt Millie came into our lives, and stayed. She was a true aunt in every sense of the word. She was an indispensable friend to my mother. Fun, caring and, everything….. yes, even like an adopted mother to me, my brother and sister.

To all you mothers out there, adopted and otherwise, from my family to your family, I wish you a most joyous Mother’s Day. You are the bedrock of our existence and it’s good to remind you of this on this very special day. We love you!!

Comments invited at uptightsuburban@aol.com

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linda@theuptightsuburbanite.com

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