The other day I saw a picture of my Aunt Barbara on my cousin’s Facebook page. The picture was one I hadn’t seen before, and I smiled at the memories of her that came flooding over me.
The first thing I think about when I think of Aunt Barbara is how big she was. As a child, I truly thought she was the fattest person I had ever seen in real life, and I was somewhat in awe of that fact. In the 30 plus years I knew her, I never once remember her wearing anything but dresses. She bought yards of fabric a couple of times a year and had all her dresses made in the same basic pattern. I can remember her breasts being so large and prominent that my infant cousins, her grandchildren, laid on them like they were a shelf. She waddled when she walked and always sat down immediately after entering the room. My mom couldn’t understand how a woman could let herself get that big and not do something about it. Because of the way my mom and a few other relatives talked about my Aunt Barbara’s size, I understood fat to be wrong. And because her weight was so appalling, she must be the fattest person alive. These are the thoughts that worried me anytime she was around.
Even though I was trained to believe fat was wrong, I couldn’t help but love my aunt. She had the most infectious laugh I had ever heard. She would get to laughing so hard that no sound would come out. And there was something funny about everything! She was also an amazing cook. She used recipes that called for ingredients by the pound and cooked and shared food with everyone. Her roux was second to none and her kitchen was a sight to behold. She always sat at the kitchen table to do all mixing, chopping, and fixing. She would get it all prepared for cooking while she sat and visited with the endless array of guests coming and going in her home. I enjoyed sitting back and watching the show! I also loved tasting the food! The amount of cheese she added to dishes was almost sinful.
We were a regular church-going family and my uncle and aunt didn’t attend church. I remember visiting their house and seeing a wooden sign hanging in the kitchen that had the word “shit” in it. I can’t remember what the rest of the sign said because I always fixated on that one word. It was a dirty, forbidden word in my house so to see it so prominently displayed for all to see was always so shocking! I would venture into the kitchen just to be able to glance at that sign. Scandalous!
Aunt Barbara was also one of the nicest people I had ever known. I honestly can’t remember her saying anything negative about anyone. Not only did she talk people up behind their backs, she was always so complimentary of everyone to their faces. She told me I had a cute figure and great hair every time she saw me, and I heard her give appropriate compliments to others in the family as well. I loved that I knew she talked about me just as positively when I wasn’t within ear shot as when I was.
My aunt loved to play Bridge. She had her regular bridge club and was very faithful to attend. I was always quite intrigued because I hadn’t ever even heard of bridge and always wondered what secrets the bridge club knew. While I never did learn to play bridge with my aunt, she did teach me several other card games and how to shuffle using a bridge method.
The picture my cousin shared on Facebook was taken during a Mardi Gras celebration where I’m sure my aunt was the life of the party like always! My Aunt Barbara died on Christmas Day in 1999. Seeing her happy smile again after so many years made my day!