- My Aunt Gertie Mp3
I remember my Aunt Gertie well. Her name was Gertrude but we called
Aunt Gertie was a perfectionist. She had standards. Her standards were
the standards of her day and she applied them firmly and with an air of
She helped to raise my mother in part. My mother's mother was pathologically
attached to her own mother and left her husband taking my baby mum with
her. My mother's father crossed the border into the USA and 'kidnapped'
her back to Canada. Thus, my mum was raised by various people, including
Gertie who was not a blood relative but a relative by marriage. Aunt Gertie
became the family aunt. We all lived in the same town of Chatham, Ontario,
which was a moderately-sized city deep in southern Ontario farming country.
When she grew up and married my dad, my mother used to dread Gerties
coming to visit the house. Gertie would check for dust and looked under
things, She sought imperfections and found them! She would call these
imperfections to my mother's attention. Now, Phyllis, perhaps you
didn't notice but there are dust bunnies under the couch... etc.
There must have been an orgy of housekeeping before she came to call or,
God forbid, if there was an unexpected visit, despair. Gertie, however,
was not given to unexpected visits. Her premise was Let them do
their best. I'll still find something wrong!
Gertie liked to visit people in hospital. She would tell patients about
all the people she had known who had suffered from the same complaint
and then died. Eventually, the hospital barred her visits because she
just wasn't cheering up the patients.
Another thing She liked to do was attend the funerals of people she didnt
know. Lets just say she was interested rather than nosy. I dont
know if she commiserated with everybody. She was probably just curious
about the cause of the deceased persons demise. A bit macabre when
you come to think of it but that was Gertie
She was a widow with no children. Her apartment was perfect. In the dining
room there was an oak dining table and a glass-fronted case with bone
china cups in it as well as the good dinner service and a tea set. She
had a neat little kitchen and a sun room. The living room was the jewel.
There were needlepoint chair cushions and framed needlepoint works hanging
on the wall as you came up the stairs to enter the living room. These
were not done by herself. She wasnt a crafty person. Needlepoint
was the accepted feminine art of the day so she collected some. The mantelpiece
held Royal Doulton figurines which used to fascinate me as a child. A
beautiful oriental rug in tones of red and blue was on the living room
floor. Everything in the room was just as it should be.
In the bathroom on the back of the toilet ledge there were two rather
unusual antique Plaster of Paris figures of small boys sitting on chamber
pots. One had a broad smile on his face and was labeled Billy Can.
The other was sunk in gloom with a dejected frown on his face. He was
labeled Billy Cant When my Aunt, in her elder years
was getting ready to go to a Home for the Aged she was giving away different
things and she gave everyone their choice and I chose Billy Can
and Billy Cant. I still have them.
My Aunt Gertie was not wealthy. Her husband had died relatively young
and his pension did not keep pace with inflation. I believe she minded
children for folks and in her elder years she took in boarders. Young
males on limited income would occupy the guest bedroom. Some of them worked
for Chathams CFCO AM radio station which was short on pay and long
on opportunity and experience. Some joined the Chatham Little Theatre
group where my mother was the doyenne. I dont know if these young
men stayed in radio. Its a hard place to make a living. Some of
them were decidedly Gay and my Aunt, all unaware, referred to them as
the dearest boys.
I once took Gertie some embroidery I was working on and showed it to her
proudly. She promptly turned it over and said firmly that someone (presumably
an authority) had told her that the back of embroidery should be as neat
as the front. I can still hear her voice saying this, too late for rebuttal
because it is, of course, complete nonsense.
At the end, and endings are often sad, she was in a Home for the Aged.
My mother would visit her there. Mother once said to me, Oh, Sonia,
its terrible. Shes not even wearing her own clothes and they
dont fit. She was so neat and now shes all messed up.
at a young age
Fricker Brock 2006
I can be reached on the web at http://www.soniabrock.com