Brody: The essence of Auntie brings Thanksgiving memories

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The essence of Auntie — that is what Thanksgiving is to me. It is a soft time, a quiet and peaceful time, a time that makes me feel loved.

I always am with those I love, sharing in good food, family stories, the proverbial afternoon nap, the time for touching.

Auntie, aged past 90, left this Earth some 30 years ago. But her essence remains and is with me still.

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Sitting in my recliner today I knew I wanted to talk about Thanksgiving. But every time I started to write, I was led to talk about our Auntie.

Auntie lived alone in a small log cabin-type house in the Ozark Mountains. She was fiercely independent, quick witted, kind and amazingly intelligent.

She went to school until she was 12 years old. At which time she and her twin sister Ethel went to work for the gentry.

Sometimes I wondered what she could have accomplished had she been able to stay in school. Then I realized no school could have made her any smarter.

But the true essence of Auntie had to do with her heart and soul. She left her imprint on everything and everyone she touched.

First of all, the scent of Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving we all went to Auntie’s house.

When we opened her heavy front door, we were enveloped in the musty, old, undusted odor as it mingled with the aroma from the iron pots and pans bubbling and baking on her ancient kitchen stove.

The next scent I recall vividly was from her handmade patch quilts as we slipped between layers of them for our after dinner nap. Breathing in these scents was like filling oneself with peace and love.

Then there was the sound of Thanksgiving — wood cracking in the wood stove, the muted thuds as we walked through her little house and the delicate shifting of uneven floor boards all combined with Auntie’s laughter. It was sort of a cackle as she went from room to room and then when she played rummy with the kids and always managed to let them win.

Thanksgiving tastes surpassed the finest restaurants. Her blend of herbs and a lifetime of cooking for the gentry all culminated at our Thanksgiving table.

But what I taste to this very day is the taste of old-ness stirred with a loving hand.

Whenever I choose, I can see in my mind’s eye exactly what everybody and everything looked like every year. There was the narrow, steep stairs meeting to two upstairs little bedrooms. Also there was the site of the trash pile we made in the back yard before it set it on fire.

I see Auntie’s mole on her nose and her long never cut-but-once hair swept up in a loose bun. I see her hand slap her leg whenever she laughed and I see the quiet, sweet tears in her eyes when it was time for us to leave.

The essence of Auntie is like a symbol to me. I remember how I felt every year on the way back home. Everybody was quiet and I tried to memorize the few days we had just so enjoyed.

Before leaving, I always ran my fingers across the rich-colored wood table, the nubbiness of chair seats. I loved to run my fingers through her white hair and feel the coolness of old china plates as we washed and dried them together.

All of these things were etched into my very soul and the same feelings bless me every year about Thanksgiving time.

I can touch the essence of Auntie all over again. It is my prayer each of you feel the same joy and peace.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.