If you want the same effect as illegal drugs without going into unfamiliar neighborhoods to find vendors, spending all that money, or doing anything that will land you in prison, Life in the Boomer Lane’s Aunt Gert is the go-to person. Her world has always been constructed almost entirely of fantasy and Nutella. You are guaranteed to get a wild ride.
She has, throughout the years, shared a lot of her wisdom with LBL. This involves mostly three topics of conversation. The first is how other people are out to ruin her life, “other people” being entirely limited to members of her family and her husband’s family (mostly the latter). Another topic is how, in spite of people wanting to ruin her life, she has spent her own life in service to others. The evidence for this is that about 30 years ago, my aunt made slipper socks for children at a church-run orphanage. Her third topic is that Nutella is a great food product. LBL can’t argue with that one.
LBL’s aunt is a very sweet, mild-mannered person. She turned 89 yesterday. She stands 4’6″ tall and weighs 70 lbs. When you meet her, it is impossible to know the surprises that lurk behind her friendly smile. Everyone loves her, especially people who are not members of her husband’s family.
A couple years ago, LBL took her aunt for a geriatric assessment. She was in a room with LBL and several geriatric specialists: a social worker, physician, nurse, psychologist. They asked questions, she answered. Her memory was still excellent, and she was very engaging. About 30 minutes into the session, just at the moment that LBL’s aunt had completely charmed everyone, the social worker said, “It must be difficult for you to have lost your husband.” My aunt answered, “Oh, yes, especially since he was murdered by his nephew.” Several people dropped their pens.
LBL was standing behind her aunt at the time, and she started waving frantically to everyone, making up gestures for “No! No! Nobody killed anybody! We are not a family of murderers! I promise! Look, I have no weapons! I am terrified of violence!” LBL doesn’t think anybody paid attention to her because they were at first busy picking up their pens, then even busier recording her aunt’s unfortunate family history. This was but one example of how her aunt has always had a lot of really interesting ways to explain the ordinary events of life.
The murder scenario came about after her aunt’s husband died of a heart attack, upstairs, in his own bed. Not believing that a person could simply die, LBL’s aunt declared that his nephew had killed him. She immediately notified the newspapers and the police. Both knew her aunt and so told her they would “record everything and keep it on file.” She has told LBL on numerous occasions that both the newspaper and the police have told her that whenever she wants, she can “go public” with the murder. As if murdering someone wasn’t bad enough, LBL’s aunt added stealing the aluminum overhang to her back door to the list of atrocities that her nephew was responsible for.
LBL’s aunt told everyone about the murder (the geriatric specialists were simply the latest in a long line) and generated a lot of sympathy, primarily from patrons at the supermarket where she shopped. LBL thinks the manager might have offered to place a “wanted” photo of her nephew up on the bulletin board where people advertised babysitting services and used TVs for sale.
LBL asked her aunt how jer uncle’s nephew could have killed her uncle if the only other person in the house when he died was her. Her answer was “thermoptic eye drops.” LBL has been unable to locate this term on Google. LBL is thinking it came from one of the countless “easy living” catalogues her aunt received daily that sold things like support hose, bedpans, and bath tub stools. LBL might write more about these catalogues later. They deserve an entire post.
LBL loves her aunt, and she considers herself lucky that she is in her family. And she isn’t the only colorful character to grace her family. LBL has already written about one of her uncles who collected old taxi cabs, or another who had the world’s largest collection of Playboy magazines and pin up calendars all over the walls of the house. Most people she knows insist, like her, that they are the “normal” members of their families. She has to say, it makes her wonder.