Mom leaves the TV on for me when she has to leave. She usually puts on something chatty with lots of human voices so I don’t feel lonely. (Dad, on the other hand, leaves on the car auctions, so I feel pretty savvy about autos when they come back.)
Today, Mom had on “Days of Our Lives” and in the bottom corner was a little thingy that said, “50 Years”. Mom could not believe this show has been on so long! She began reminiscing to me about her Great-Aunt Angeline.
Great-Aunt Angeline lived “downstate” in Southern Illinois. Mom was always surprised, as a child, to see how close we were to farms as soon as one left Chicago.
Great-Aunt Angeline was commonly referred to as, “Chu-cha”. Mom inquired to her one day what did that mean. Great-Aunt Angeline cocked her head to one side with a smile and said, “It means, ‘The Great’. But you can just call me, ‘The Great'”. And she was.
Chu-cha was a widowed lady. She had two Siamese cats, Cricket (notorious for scratching) and Tuffy (younger, and very playful). To Mom, Chu-cha looked a lot like a Siamese cat herself; with steel-grey hair and steel-grey “cat’s eye” glasses that she wore her whole life. Chu-cha had a way about her; how she would tilt her head to the side and give you a Cheshire cat smile. It seemed to Mom like she was always up to something. Mom says she loved her more than any other relative.
Chuch (as she was called for short) came up to Mom’s one summer, instead of the other way around. Mom was introduced to soap operas at this time, which Chu-cha referred to as, “her stories”.
Mom always remembers the time she stood watching Chuch from the doorway, clad in her housedress and slippers, hands-on-hips, talking to the TV screen in an adamant voice: “I TOLD you not to have nothin’ to do with that man. Now look at you! All the trouble you’re in!” Mom’s 6 year-old self stared on this phenomenon with a mixture of love, surprise, and terror. Why was Chu-cha talking to the screen? Why didn’t (her) Mom ever wear a housedress and slippers? Was she going to get into trouble for spying? Was the TV going to answer?
Of course, Chu-cha laughed, and told the child-Mom that these daytime shows kept her company in between visits from her son and grandchildren, and quilting with the ladies at church. Chu-cha was always laughing, always had a smile on her face. She was funny, teasing, loving, and could quilt like nobody’s business. Her blankets always smelled of cedar chest, and she taught Mom that squash, fresh from the garden, was one of the best vegetables around.
50 years. The soap operas continue, and Mom still misses her Great-Aunt Angeline, her favorite relative, the best years of childhood summertime, and the two cats, Cricket and Tuffy.
Woof! Love, Maggie