Not Opie’s Aunt Bea

It was a busy weekend. Lots going on. Three grandchildren, Mark, Cameron and Ella spent the night on Friday. On Saturday morning, they joined us for my agency’s annual “Scouting for Food and Clothing” drive. We didn’t get home from that until 2:30 p.m. Then I was off to the mall to buy a shower gift for my niece’s bridal shower today. I like waiting until the last-minute to shop, it’s what truly committed procrastinators do. Last night we celebrated my friend’s birthday.

So much for Friday and Saturday night. Today, the bridal shower began at 11:30 a.m.  It was lovely. Held at a local Italian restaurant, the food was delicious. Wendy received so many wonderful gifts! I think they must have needed a truck to haul home her loot. Good for her.

After the shower I intended to come straight home. Instead, after calling my sister, I learned my newborn great-nephew was visiting at her house. So, of course, I stopped to see him and Donna’s other grandchildren. I planned to stay for a short time. A couple of hours later, after joining them for dinner, I made my way home. A la familigia!

Now it’s after 8 p.m. on Sunday night (cringe) and here I go again with my Sunday night fever. A wonderful weekend, filled with family, friends and enjoyment. So, what stuck with me most this weekend?

Surprisingly, it was a Facebook status that has played over and over in my head. I saw it yesterday afternoon. I can’t stop thinking about it. Thanks to smart phones, you can check Facebook anywhere. So, what was it about the post that struck a chord? With all the activity packed into my last two days, why does that stick in my mind?

My cousin, Judy’s daughter, Gina, posted the status on her FB page. Judy is my first cousin. Her mother and my father were brother and sister. My dad was Joe. His big sister was Beatrice — Aunt Bea to me. Gina is the youngest of Judy’s four beautiful daughters. Gina’s post brought back memories of my Aunt Bea and my dad:

We will dance in a circle, I will show you the way…love you Nonnie.

I read those words and in a flash I was back in time. The words “we will dance in a circle, I will show you the way,” were part of a silly song Aunt Bea and my Dad used to sing. I couldn’t get the words out of my head. I tried to remember the rest. It was a really short little ditty. What was the rest of that little song?

It came back to me while I was in the shower getting ready for our Saturday evening outing. I let the hot water run over me. I watched the steam cloud the glass doors as I kept repeating the words in Gina’s post. “…we will dance in a circle…..I will show you the way.” And then I got it!

How do you do my darling?
How do you today?
We will dance in a circle,
I will show you the way.

I sang the simple tune over and over and over. I thought about my Dad. I thought about Aunt Bea. Aunt Bea. My confirmation sponsor. The oldest of my grandmother’s five children. I loved my Aunt Bea. She was funny. She was a clean freak (like all the women in my family). She made you wash your hands every five minutes. She had the most heartfelt laugh I can remember hearing as a child.

She and my Uncle Jim lived in the neighborhood near Grandma’s house and my dad’s grocery store. Her five children, my brother, sister and I, along with most of my other sixteen cousins, all attended St. Andrew’s School on Portland Avenue.

I loved spending time at my Aunt Bea’s house. It was always a good time. Aunt Bea and Uncle Jim had five children. We spent a lot of time during our younger years at their house. It was always noisy and fun! We drove my Uncle Jim crazy. He preferred quiet to my Aunt Bea’s fun-loving ways. I have a vivid memory of the laundry shoot at their house. It fascinated me. Their third-floor attic was finished to accommodate all the children. City homes were much smaller than the houses we live in these days.

I was closest to my cousin, Rosemary, who was a year my junior. I remember Rosemary piercing my ears in Aunt Bea’s kitchen. I was maybe 13 years old. She used a couple of ice cubes, a big needle and some thread. Just a little different from popping in to the Piercing Pagoda at the mall. They didn’t exist back then. Actually, there weren’t enclosed malls in those days, just strip shopping centers.

Anyway, back to Aunt Bea. She was an excellent cook. All of her dishes were fantastic, but we really loved her eggplant parmesan! It was THE best I’ve ever eaten. We used to eat it with fresh Italian bread, like a sandwich. YUM.

Aunt Bea was always in charge of the other Aunts when we were together for the holidays. She was Grandma’s “sous chef” when it came time to baking and preparing for holiday meals. And, of course, she was the oldest, so her familial position was understood by all.

Aunt Bea got pretty sick in her later years. I didn’t visit her as much as I would have liked. When I did get to see her, she would pretend to scold me and then tell me she missed me. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I made excuses. I worked and was raising four children of my own. Now, years later, I wish I had spent more time with her in her later years. She and my dad were special to each other. I could write another whole post about that. And maybe I will. Aunt Bea and Uncle Joe. Something special.

Gina, thanks for the memories. I’m glad Nonnie taught you that song. I’ve passed the SeeSaw song down to my kids and grandchildren. I think I will add your song to my list.

Below, from left to right, Aunt Bea (always laughing!), my Mom (Yolanda), Aunt Mattie, my Grandma and Auntie Nin (my father’s sisters and his mother). A holiday at Grandma’s house. The women, always in the kitchen, worked the entire day!

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6 Responses to Not Opie’s Aunt Bea

  1. Valerie Steverson says:

    Love her smile!

  2. Ginny says:

    Love the aprons!

  3. roz says:

    Good memories ro, I do remember aunt bea and yes she was always smiling. Your mom looks wonderful in the picture as well.

  4. Donna Kress says:

    Thanks for taking me back down memory lane…what a grand childhood we had, didn’t we? Love you♥

  5. To have those childhood memories so clear in your mind is a blessing! The photo is an added bonus. Thanks so much for sharing. This was a lovely post:)

  6. Definitely time well-spent. I like the B & W picture. The women seem to enjoy whatever they are doing. Such was life before Facebook, I phones and the like.

    Joy always,

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