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Wicked Wednesday: Memories of an Elder

Wicked Wednesday once again, where we all contribute to the same topic. This has been a wicked kind of month – five Wednesdays! Continuing on our theme of memories, Wickeds, who is an elder you remember strongly? A grandparent, great-aunt, neighbor, teacher – tell us who she or he was and why you remember that person so well. Bonus points if the relationship had an effect on your career as an author.

Liz: My grandpa, hands down. He was a detective who loved to tell stories about his adventures, so I guess you can see the correlation with my career! He loved to tell this one story about a guy named Nick Maluff, who had this dog who allegedly bit everyone he met. It was like that game of telephone. Every time he told the story the dog was more vicious and had attacked more people, until you would’ve thought he was out terrorizing the city on a daily basis. Turns out, the dog was just a sweet little pup who had maybe nipped at one person. Most likely my Gramp, who probably poked him with his cane or something! I always wished I’d gotten to hear more stories from his police adventures before he died.

Barb: This is my great-grandfather, Walter P. Taylor, Sr. He lived until I was in seventh grade, so I knew him quite well. He lived with my dad’s family during the thirties, forties and fifties, so my dad grew up with him in the house and they were particularly close. But by the time I remember him, he lived in Myrtle Beach with my great aunt and uncle. Every year, on the last day of school in June, my grandmother would pick up my brother and me and take us, along with my great-grandfather (whom we called ManPop for reasons to complicated to explain here), out to her summer house in Water Mill, Long Island. We spent two weeks, a lovely time, of beaching, going out to lunch, and to the penny candy store. In this photo, he is doing the thing I remember best, painting beautiful tiles. With his help, my brother and I painted them, too and then we took them to be glazed. I still have many of his tiles at my house, as well as some with my brother’s and my own childish drawings.

Edith: I was always particularly fond of my San Francisco aunt Jo Reinhardt, and was close to her. She was my father’s baby sister, and ended up the tallest of the three siblings. I know she was grateful and surprised to live into her eighties, since both her parents, as well as her sister and brother, died in their sixties. Jo was a fabulous cook, a generous smart sweet woman, both elegant and practical, a mother of three boys (when I became mother of two sons, we had an extra link), and a memoirist in her later years. She loved having fun – our families had a reunion when she was in her seventies and she was dancing as much as any of us in the living room one night. She and my uncle Dick were very close and always seemed to model the perfect relationship to me. Her laugh was a rill of bells and her eyes always seemed to be smiling. Miss you, Jo!

Sherry: My Aunt Pat isn’t a blood relative but my mom’s sorority sister. She was beautiful, interesting, funny, and oh, so full of life. She married her college sweetheart — Uncle John — on radio show and won a honeymoon in Carmel, California! They lived in Arizona, very far from me in Iowa so each visit was extra special. Everyone should have an Aunt Pat in their lives. Aunt Pat always told the story of one of their visits when I was in high school. I was supposed to clear the table and do the dishes but told my mom that I needed to talk to Aunt Pat. The picture of us is the last time I saw her — she died unexpectedly six months later. But it’s a perfect example of how fun it was to be around her — the cigars are cookies.

Julie: My maternal grandparents were/are very special to me. Though I loved my grandfather fiercely, and still miss him. 35 years after his death, I think my grandmother had the most influence on me. She used to say that grandchildren were the applause of life, and she treated us accordingly. That said, she was very human to me, foibles and all, and I loved her very, very much. She taught me how to knit, the secret to a great apple pie, to love shows like Dallas and Dynasty, and that love could be complicated. Today, as I put on the red lipstick and put a couple of bobby pins in my hair to keep it from fluffing up beyond belief, I think of her, and smile.

Readers: Which older person do you miss the most, or learned the most from?

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