I remember everything about that weekend.

Much to my disappointment, Mom did not climb the wall as I had hoped. She kept herself together, digging out the good towels, the good sheets, digging out the ashtrays for Uncle John and his ever lit cigarettes.

Aunt Marylou chattered and exclaimed over Audrey, her "daughter" as she liked to claim because they had the same fair colored skin and blue eyes. Grandma Mary Jane tried to coax me to come talk to her but I hung back.

"The child still doesn't like me!" she complained to my Mom who swept by with an armful of sheets as she headed to my room.

My room was a disaster. Mom knew it, I knew it and in about one minute Grandma Mary Jane was going to know it and then I'd have to hear about it.

Standing the middle of the room, Grandma would begin by looking shocked then dismayed.

Taking it all in, she would look at me, shake her head and then addressing my Mother would ask in plaintive tones why on earth she would ever "let the child live this way?"

Back and forth they would go then as if from a script; Mom retorting that the state of my room was the last thing on her list and Grandma's return that it wasn't as if she had a houseful of children to worry about and then....here'd come the clincher....

"When I was her age...."

and about this time I would leave the room to go find Aunt Marylou to see if by chance, just maybe, she hadn't happened to put something in her luggage for me despite the fact that she was, after all, just "passing thru!"

It was "fruit basket upset" time around the place for awhile as sleeping arrangements were metered out. I drew the blow up mattress on the floor of my folks room, the Grandparents got my room in spite of it's messy look. Aunt Marylou and Uncle John got the couches in the living room. If anyone thought it strange that they should be sleeping apart, no one mentioned it.

Audrey of course kept her bed in her room.

I remember everything about that weekend.

There were eight years between Mother and Aunt Marylou but they were as close as twins and just as secretive at times. Far too young to join in their "big girl" camaraderie and not wanting a lesson on proper room cleaning techniques from Grandma, I spent most of my time with the men, especially Uncle John.

Ah, Uncle John. The smell of cigarette smoke and evening dew will always bring you back to me. Mom couldn't abide by his ever present smoking but, "he is good to you girls" she would reason and would let him smoke in the house.

Never the less, he generally hung out on the patio blowing smoke rings which I never tried of trying to catch with my finger.

"If you catch it, you can keep it!" he would say and that was enough to keep me after them.

(Easily amused, I know.)

That weekend he showed off a new trick of how he could fling my toy pocket watch out over the yard and, wonder of wonders, it would reappear in the wink of an eye behind his back!

He must have done it, oh, about three, four times for me when exclaiming that it was "my turn!" I snatched it out of his hand and let it fly.

It was a good throw for a five year old. I managed to set it sailing over the yard, over the sidewalk, even over the parking strip and into the street where it landed and shattered in a thousand plastic pieces.

Too shocked to cry, I looked up at him in confusion;

"But, it did it for you!"

I remember everything about that weekend.

This is Sunday morning, 09/22/1968. The blouse Aunt Marylou is wearing belongs to my Mom. White with blue dots, it went better with the suit than the blouse Aunt Marylou brought with her. Never mind all she asked for was a slip.

Aunt always had a way of forgetting some little part of her outfit and then she'd ask my Mom if she didn't have a spare slip or some shoes or gloves she could borrow. She did this knowing full well that Mom wouldn't be able to stop at just the slip or the shoes or whatever else.

Mom loved clothes, loved putting together outfits. She was very good at this and for this reason, Aunt Marylou would be sure and forget something just to give Mom an excuse to redress her sometimes from the skin out. Funny, Mom never caught on that her sister was doing this on purpose. I know that's what she did because later, I'd do the same thing when I came home to visit.

So here we are, standing to the side of the church that was in our front yard. It was a lovely morning, such a lovely day in early fall...

We went to church, we had lunch, the adults droned on and I waited for Uncle John to fire up another "cancer stick" so I could go back to catching smoke rings. At least those didn't break.

Around about 2PM, they got ready to leave. The car was packed up, goodbyes were said. Aunt Marylou promised that next time she would call to let us know they were coming, if only to please Mom. She promised this every time...

It was now about 2:30PM. They have a good four hour drive ahead of them.

I remember everything about that weekend.

I remember the car, the new white car, turning to go back down the hill towards the highway. Remember Aunt Marylou hanging out the back, driver's side passenger seat, blowing a kiss...good bye...good bye....

If I want, I can stop the film in my head right there and keep her frozen there for all time. The car need never reach the highway and what happened need never come.

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