When I was growing up, our neighbors to the left of us were an older couple, with grown up kids. They were always around though, coming and going. I remember that their son had an orange Chow who enjoyed scaring the hell out of me through the fence in our backyard. I could see him snarling at me, between our tomato and green pepper plants.
He was a mean dog who wanted to eat plump little me if he had gotten the chance, I’m sure of it.
My mom became tight with the woman of the house, forging a strong friendship despite their age differences, which only proves the fact that age means absolutely fucking nothing when it comes to relationships.
My brother and I called her Aunt Mildred, out of respect for our elders. It wouldn’t have been right to call her Milly like my mom did, plus she did have an “aunt” kind of vibe about her.
I have many memories of Aunt Mildred. One time, while we were all at a store, I pointed to a box of Summer’s Eve disposable douches and asked her what they were.
She got all flustered right before my young eyes. “Ask your mom, Merry.”
My mom said that it wasn’t anything that I needed to be concerned about for a long time, now go walk the yellow line and get outta my hair, kid.
Aunt Mildred was a quiet, sweet, kindhearted woman who moved to northeast Ohio (for some reason) from Alabama. She had a bit of an accent and a gentle lilt to her voice that was soothing to listen to. I always hovered around the adults when I was younger, listening intently to their conversations, hoping for some magical insight on what being an adult was all about.
I also hoped to catch a swear word now and then.
It all seemed pretty swell to me. If I had only known the truth, maybe I would have spent more time walking the yellow line like my mom always told me to do.
In jest, I’m sure. Um…it was a joke, haha.
Anyways, the main thing that I remember about Aunt Mildred was that she loved owls. She collected them. She had owl knickknacks, coffee mugs, wall art, clothing, throw blankets…anything that you can think of that’s inside a home, there was an owl on it.
When she moved a few cities away, we stayed in contact with her, until one day, we didn’t. Life happens as it does and people fade away from our life.
I hadn’t thought of her in years until the other night when I was coloring on my smart phone, which is now a new nightly habit of mine.
While I was searching for another picture to bring to life, I came across these owls. She instantly sprung to my mind and I decided to start working on it, taking my time to make it perfect.
According to my calculations, there’s a chance that she’s still alive. If so, she’d be in her early 80’s by now.
At any rate, I colored this in her memory. She was a lovely person and I’m glad to have known her.
It’s amazing to me how little things like a love for owls can trigger a memory of a person that touched my life so many years ago.
*My mom corrected me below in the comments. Aunt Mildred was younger than I thought, she’d be in her early 80’s now. I had originally said that she’d be in her early 90’s. Thanks, mom.*