Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

Not every family has an Aunt Margaret.  I’m sorry for them.  Aunt Margaret and my Mom were good friends growing up in Clarksville, Tennessee, and later she married Mom’s brother. They still were good friends. The Tennessee accent is wonderful by itself, then Aunt Margaret moved to Mississippi for 50 or so years and added a new dimension to her voice.  I could have listened to that woman talk for hours at a time.  She way she caressed words was intoxicating, and, of course, her wisdom was something to behold as well.

I remember Aunt Margaret from when I was a young, young pup, which put her maybe mid 20s.  She was cool then and got cooler over the years.  She went through plenty of pain in her life, but her face only showed joy and wonder in living.  She didn’t hesitate spreading that joy and wonder around, either.

One year, Brenda and I took a road trip through “the deep south,” and we stayed a couple of nights with her in Pascagoula, a wonderful little community on the Gulf.  Her husband had died several years before that, and she was living in a small apartment decorated in simple elegance, surrounded by family heirlooms, china and silver.  The first night for supper, we ate off linen place mats, and I said, “Aunt Margaret, thank you for using these linen place mats for us.  They’re beautiful.”  She patted my arm.  “Honey, I didn’t bring them out for you.  I got these as a wedding gift more than 50 years ago, and I use them every day.”  Which meant she washed, ironed and starched them regularly.

This was a woman who would leave an atmosphere of fun and love wherever she went.  Not every family has an Aunt Margaret.  We were blessed.

My favorite Aunt Margaret story shows how practical she was.  This may have happened when she was in her 70s.  Pascagoula was frequently hurricane central, and when the warnings came, this wonderful lady would quickly pack up some treasures and get in her car and head north toward her son John’s house in Jackson.  Most of these times, John would open the trunk of his Mom’s car and find it lined with family silver.  She would explain, “This silver has been in our family for generations.”  Enough said.

On one trip not too many years before she died, Aunt Margaret called him and announced that a horrible storm was coming.  “Honey, clean the sheets and make the bed.  I’m on my way.”

When she pulled into his driveway, John went out to get his Mom’s luggage and make sure she was OK.  She stopped him from unloading.  “We can get my luggage in a few minutes.  We need to take care of the trunk first.”

He completely understood, knowing how much his Mom loved her silver.  When he opened the trunk, there was no silver.  Only a couple of ice chests – filled to the top with bags of fresh shrimp.

“Mom, where on earth is your silver?” he asked.  “I can’t believe you brought all this shrimp and not your favorite silver.”

“Honey,” she replied with a giggle, “I wasn’t about to leave all this fresh shrimp back home to spoil.  I just bought it.  Besides, the silver’s insured.”

She had her priorities straight, it appears.

Date of Blog Story: 
April 9, 2010

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