Auntie Mae Mae and Uncle Bruce owned property in 29 Palms, California. They lived in a trailer while they built their home, brick by brick – with their own hands. Amazing! I was fortunate enough to spend a week or two with them during the summer for several years. Sometimes my Grandma came too – but sometimes I was there alone with them. Those were fabulous summer visits. We had our main meal at mid-day and then just a light supper. Right as the sun set we would take short walks through the desert; looking for glass or rocks or any other treasures we could find. Auntie Mae Mae had a glass garden in front of their home. When you put old fashioned glass in the sun it changes colors. I still have a little wine glass that belonged to her. It’s a beautiful shade of amethyst.
Uncle Bruce put up a portable pool for me one summer and I had great fun splashing and cooling off during the horrendously hot days. But other summers he took me to the pool in town; not that there was A LOT of town in 29 Palms in the late 60’s. My favorite memory of Uncle Bruce was that he never wrote “just a letter”. All of his letters were written in poem. I still have a few of them. I wish I had saved more – they are priceless to me.
Auntie Mae Mae taught me to embroider and crochet. Well, actually she got really frustrated teaching me to crochet –although I can’t remember why. I think I wanted to hold the needle differently than she did and that caused me to crochet differently which gave her difficulty in teaching me. BUT, with what she showed me I’ve been crocheting for years. I love it – and I think of her often as I am making something for myself or friends.
I remember the dramatic storms we would have in the desert; lots of thunder and lightning. Auntie was petrified of thunder. I recall one storm where I asked Uncle Bruce, “What happened to Auntie Mae Mae?” He replied, “Oh, she’s probably in the closet.” That was her safe haven in a storm.
After Uncle Bruce passed away Auntie Mae Mae moved from the desert to live closer to Nona. It was always so nice to see her and spend time with her – especially on holidays. I’ve been thinking of her a lot this past week because she and I were always in charge of mashing the potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would mash and whip and laugh and season. That memory of that laughter usually crosses my mind when I’m mashing potatoes today.
She and Uncle Bruce had such a special way of taking care of me and making me feel important. I knew I was loved when I was with them and those fun summer days are some of my most favorite childhood memories. I miss them both and those happy days we shared. But, I can close my eyes and picture their little house and see them both sitting in their chairs or at the table. Auntie has General Hospital on the television – but it’s blurry because it uses rabbit ears. We’re getting ready to sit down for our mid-day meal – and there is love… lots and lots of love. Oh, and don’t forget the laughter!