Nostalgia. The good old days. The old ways. Back in the day.
We tend to remember the past all packaged up as warm and glowing. This morning, for no discernible reason at all, I had a flash back memory from my childhood. I was a young child visiting my great Aunt Hester€”my mother‘s mother’s sister. My great Aunt Hester had very poor eyesight and had also had cataract surgery. In those days, the result was very thick glasses that made your eyes look like saucers! My Aunt Hester, as was so frequently the case, was sitting on the sofa (with the omnipresent National Inquirer at one end) in her den with a flaming wall heater, leaning forward, offering us something good from the kitchen.
While my mother, sister, and I were visiting my great aunt during the day, it was dark outside. I then recalled that we frequently visited Aunt Hester and Uncle Shelley when it was storming outside. My mother has had a lifelong fear, no phobia, of lightening. Most of the visits to Aunt Hester were during thunderstorms. My mother can’t stand to be alone in a thunderstorm.
My great Aunt Easter, the other of my mother’s mother’s sisters lived too far away to go visit her during a thunderstorm. My mother wouldn’t drive that far€”keep in mind it was probably less than 5 miles. We frequently visited my Aunt Easter and Uncle Frank (pictured to the right), but my father had to drive us that far.
Then I recalled that we would also visit my cousins during thunderstorms, until they moved from up the street to Gulf Breeze. Naturally, Gulf Breeze was too far to drive, and you had to drive over the 3 mile bridge, which, of course, my mother considered an utter impossibility in those days. When my cousins lived up the street, several times a summer we would all pile into the car and drive over to the beach. But Aunt Helen had to do the driving. It was even further than Gulf Breeze and required traversing two bridges!
How quaint: not driving too far.
Then I recalled a trip we took with my grandparents. We had to drive through Atlanta. Talk about traumatic: four lanes of cars on I-285 in those days. Every time a car passed us, naturally my grandfather drove slower than the flow of traffic, my grandmother, sitting in the back seat, would brace herself for a wreck while running her hand down my mother’s leg with a sharp inhaling sound. My mother’s leg was raw by the time we got to the hotel in Atlanta. No, our final destination wasn’t Atlanta. We were heading to South Carolina to visit my great, great Aunt Sophia (pictured to the left wearing a sweater with my grandmother), but the trip from Mobile to Atlanta was a huge journey to us back in those days.
My final morning recollection of the good old days was the fact that my grandmother, who lived to be 92, my great Aunt Easter, who lived to be 77, and my great Aunt Hester, who lived to be 99 (may all of their completely beautiful souls rest in peace) never drove a car, not even once, in their entire lifetimes. So I guess it shouldn’t be considered too odd that my mother never really drove very far. She was adventurous because she actually would drive!
How quickly times change.