Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Aunt Fannie

Aunt Fannie always saw the glass half empty. It's just the way she was. I can remember my Mom describing the letters she received from my two Aunts living on that tiny island off New London, Connecticut. Aunt Fannie and Aunt Josie would often write about the same events - one letter filled with all the joyful news, the other with a darker view of things.

She was the middle sister of five - with a dashing younger brother thrown in for good measure. She was not the pretty one or the popular one or the one with the sunny disposition. I'm not sure if that was the reason for her pessimistic view of things and her rather sharp tongue, but so it was.

When all the other sisters were married off and busy with families of their own, Aunt Fannie remained the spinster sister still living at home and taking care of Mama.

When my Grandmother died, the question of what was to become of Aunt Fannie was a difficult one. My own mother, young enough to be Aunt Fannie's daughter, and my kind-hearted Dad offered to give up their own little apartment and move into Aunt Fannie's larger one.

I know it wasn't easy for my Mom. She had been so delighted with her own little place - sewing and decorating and making it into a cozy home. And Aunt Fannie was not the easiest of souls to get along with. There was that caustic tongue to contend with.

I was two years old when Aunt Fannie came to live with us. In spite of herself, a little hidden soft spot emerged as she became my champion - the one who felt I could do no wrong. Mom gently laughs as she recalls the times Aunt Fannie took my side when matters of discipline arose.

She patiently taught me to knit and spent countless hours with me. I remember her smile and the way her shoulders she shook when she laughed.

There came a day when my champion left our home and went to live on that little island. A quiet, gentle man entered her life, and much to everyone's amazement, carried her away to live happily (well as happily as anyone who sees life through dark colored glasses can) ever after. The fact that she even set foot on that ferry in spite of her terror of water was a testament to her love for Uncle Joe.

She loved to tell me stories about the summer I went to visit her all by myself. I think I was about four at the time. I wish I could remember it myself, but I loved to hear the stories. The memories of that special time, formed of her words and the black and white pictures in my photo album, are precious to me.

Life for Aunt Fannie seemed to run full circle. In her later years, when Uncle Joe had passed away, she went to live with a younger sister who was also a widow. My Mom often says that we don't really change much when we get older; we just get "more so." I think that's the way it was with Aunt Fannie. She really didn't mellow. The pessimistic outlook remained as did the sharp tongue, but always there was that tenderness she did her best to cover up.

There came a day when she just didn't feel well. She took to her bed and seemed to make up her mind that it was time for her to step from this life into the next. I got to see her one more time before she died quietly in a nursing home in Pennsylvania. She had that sweet smile for me and promised she would do her best to get better. I miss her.

linking to the group writing project at High Calling - (Why not join us with a story about someone special to you?)

and Emily's imperfect prose


picture: the lighthouse we passed on the way to visit Aunt Fannie on her little island


  1. This was just lovely...I love your Aunt Fanny!! :)

  2. Such good description! I love how she became your champion!

    My great-grandmother was a Fannie (Frances, but no one called her that).

  3. Linda, this was so well-written and very interesting. It made me think of my Aunt Rhody, except she was married three times ;) and I was never special to her. Thanks for a good read today.

    And thank you for your comments yesterday; uplifting for sure!

  4. Linda,

    I was hoping you'd share about your Aunt Fannie. Thank you so much for contributing this well-told story, and of course, thank you for inspiring this group-writing project. I believe you suggested this topic while we climbed that path to Circle Bluff.

  5. smiles. you really bring her to life in your words...and can def see how she became a special person in your life...nice bit of writing...

  6. I could feel that special tenderness she offered you in your words.

  7. I can just imagine your aunt Fannie! I love the she became your champion and that you had such a great relationship like you did. So full of special stories and memories. Such a wonderful gift!

  8. I'm so glad Aunt Fannie had you to brighten those days. And Uncle Joe. Lovely storytelling, Linda!

    Love to you.

  9. I love that you brought out the best in Aunt Fannie.

  10. A sweet story, beautifully told. Aunts are special people, aren't they? Even those with a bleaker worldview!

  11. lovely writing! love that you have been married to your high school sweetheart for 44 years! wow :)

  12. Make sure you come over to my blog today to enter my birthday giveaway and to see your princess costume! hehe I will be back later to catch up on your posts. xoxo

  13. this is a wonderful, wonderful story, linda. my favorite post of yours yet. i love picturing you as the little girl that softened aunt fannie's heart... you have such a gift that way, friend. love you.

  14. Oh, your aunt Fannie sounds like a real character, and I also love how she became her champion. Hoping to link up with this project myself.

  15. Love this post.. I felt like I was right there with you.. Remembering your Aunt Fannie. Love it.

  16. How lovely!
    And why am I not surprised that you brought out her soft spot :)

  17. She's like a character in a book or movie who is well developed, and just when you think you don't like this character, you actually love her and cheer for her! This balanced piece is full of respect, affection, and realism.

    What a gift she was to you, in spite of that tongue.

    And how courageous of your parents to make room for her, loving the relatively unlovely.

    Thank you for introducing us to Aunt Fannie (and inspiring this project!).