I just adore my Aunt Cora.
She's my dad's younger sister and for all my life she's been the best aunt I could ask for.
When I was very young she always seemed very glamorous to me. Her hair was always just so (and still is) and her clothes were very stylish. I remember her wearing make-up and perfume all the time and to me she was just the epitome of chic. To this day Dove soap reminds me of her and it's why I use it myself. The smell just makes me think of her and it comforts me.
She has always spoiled me too. Not in an overt way but she has always tried to give me or do for me just what I wanted and it was her way of letting me know she loves me and wants me to be happy. As a little girl I loved to go grocery shopping with her because, unlike going shopping with my mom, Aunt Cora would let me pick out pretty much whatever I wanted. Now I don't get the treat of picking out my favorite cereal with her but instead she spoils me in other ways.
I was back in my hometown for a visit in November and my darling friends from around the country were coming in to visit me. I wanted so much for Aunt Cora to meet them and I wanted to show her off as well so I invited her to come along with us to dinner. She was scheduled to work that night but instead of disappointing me she arranged to switch her shift with someone else and she came to dinner with us. She knew it would make me happy and so she was going to do it for me and I couldn't have loved her more for it.
Aunt Cora has lived in the same Mississippi town her whole life. She's very much what people envision of a lady of the South. She's gracious and hospitible and she's a wonderful cook. She'll run around making sure you've had second helpings of everything before she'll sit down and eat herself. Taking care of her guests is important to her and she's soft spoken and gentle. And just when you think you have her pegged as such a lady that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, she'll come up with something so opposite of the stereotypical Southern lady that you are caught between being stunned and braying with laughter.
As we were riding to the restaurant the night my friends arrived, we had to pass a wood pulp factory. Stinks to high heaven and it never fails to gag me. We were commenting on the horrible stench when Aunt Cora, as matter-of-fact as could be said "If y'all need to pass gas, now would be the time to do it!".
Classic. Classic Aunt Cora humor.
Aunt Cora and my mother are close - closer than many other sisters-in-law. They're also very nearly the same age with Aunt Cora being just seven weeks older than my mom - and to my mom that seven weeks may as well be seven years. She loves to point out that Aunt Cora is older. They have a yearly tradition at birthday time of finding the funniest, most cutting birthday cards rubbing in how old each of them is. They run pretty much neck and neck regarding who gives the funnier, more insulting card but last year Aunt Cora beat her hands down in the "you're the old one" race.
My mom had been in the hospital and when released Aunt Cora picked her up. A nurse's aide waited with my mom while Aunt Cora brought the car around. It was a warm day and the windows were down in the car and just as Aunt Cora pulled up the aide said "Ma'am, here's your daughter now.". Mother, wavering between being irked and being amused said "That's not my daughter - that's my sister-in-law!" and all the while was praying that Aunt Cora hadn't heard what the aide said.
No such luck for Mother. While the nurse's aide was dying of embarrassment and my mother was cringing from the comment, Aunt Cora, having heard every word, bound out of the car and ran up to the nurse's aide, arms open wide saying, "Darlin', let me hug your neck for that!" and laughed in that adorable way that only Aunt Cora can laugh.
I'd have paid money to have seen that myself.
Aunt Cora has always been my favorite aunt and when my own nephews and neice came along I told myself that I wanted to be an aunt like Aunt Cora. I wanted to be the fun one, the one that didn't seem stuffy and uptight, the one who would spoil them and let them get away with stuff. My sister's son has been around Aunt Cora since the day he was born and she's like another grandmother to him so he knows just how fabulous having an Aunt Cora can be.
The best compliment he could ever give me was when he told me that I really was like Aunt Cora to him.