Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A few nuts.

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts. - Author Unknown

I went most of my life without meeting my great-aunt Gracie. A potential relationship between the two of us was victim to circumstance. My dad's side of the family was from Queens, my mom's side from rural Minnesota, and I grew up in a few places in the Midwest, with the very rare trip to Dad's hometown. This didn't lend to closeness with my paternal relatives.

Sadly, it wasn't until I was an adult that I met Gracie, my grandfather's sister. The story goes that she wasn't exactly a US citizen. You see, when she was a kid, the family moved from Nova Scotia to New York City. My grandpa and his brother became naturalized when they served in World War II, but she never did. According to her telling, Gracie wasn't naturalized because of an incident that involved her naturalization papers being on the table and something about spilled grease. Whatever the exact series of events, Gracie never became a citizen. We kind of joked about her being an illegal alien because she had lived most of her long, long life here in the United States. Could you imagine INS coming for this little old woman with a New York accent, carting her off in handcuffs?

Gracie was quite the character. The first time I did finally meet her, she came directly up to me, gave me a big kiss on the mouth (something we Midwesterners aren't all that comfortable with - insert joke here), and promptly said, "You know this side of the family is crazy." No kidding.

This tiny woman smoked like a fiend most of her life, wore too much makeup, drowned in old fur coats, always wore her hair in a loose bun, and burst into song at the drop of a hat. She was absolutely lovely. I only met her a few times before she died. This saddens me because she was delightful, and sweet, and I will miss all the stories that she would gladly relate, now lost to the ether.

It is my sincere hope that everyone has a Gracie in their families, someone who is unique, funny, and maybe a little nuts, an external reminder of our internal craziness. I knew so little of my great-aunt, but I am so glad I did have the chance to connect, no matter how brief, with this wonderful character.


willow said...

"This tiny woman smoked like a fiend most of her life, wore too much makeup, drowned in old fur coats, always wore her hair in a loose bun, and burst into song at the drop of a hat."

Sounds like someone I would adore.

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armyblond said...

wow! gotta love the nuts in the families.

Sorry to here you lost one of yours. I'm sure there are plenty of others to go around though.

Don't really know who to classify as the nut in my family (that usually means I am it!).

I could say that my uncle and his wife would be classified. They are both first cousins to each other and yes, I did say they were married. We don't live down south or anything, we're from NJ. We are Portuguese, so there isn't much of that running around in our culture, but it is what it is ....

Samantha Betts said...

I think more of us are the nuts in the family than we realize.

armyblond, I can relate to the interesting intra-familial marriage. My sister is married to our first cousin's half-brother.

Thanks for the comments guys. Wasn't Gracie fabulous?!

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