My Aunt Bootsie
What do I say about Aunt Bootsie?
First, I suppose is the fact that she was not biologically my aunt. She was my mothers aunt but all the Sowells have called her Aunt Bootsie for as long as I can remember.
Bootsie was one of those generational characters many of us have in our families. She was born with a mild case of Polio, if there is such a thing, and spent her working years in the local cotton mill. Born in 1917, she was ninety-three years old. I did some research on Polio and found there was an epidemic in 1916: about 27,000 cases and 6,000 deaths in the U. S. that year.
Aunt Bootsie never married. She was a faithful follower of Perry Mason, baseball and the novels of Louis L’Amour . Mom’s mother and Bootsie originally co-owned the house that holds a plethora of fuzzy memories: Christmas spent there, grass cut by me and my brother and the moment I learned that Mom’s mother had died.
Some of my favorite memories of Boots revolve around Planters Cocktail peanuts, an old Ford Fairlane, and a picture I have of the two of us with my horse, Rusty.
When my brother and I spent time at her house, Bootsie always had a small blue can of those Planters Cocktail peanuts for us and they were a treat! She cautioned us to eat them slow-- to make them last. We did, as best we could. It is interesting the small things I remember.
I remember the four door Ford Fairlane she bought new in 1963 or 64. The old man was a Chevy guy but I loved that old black Ford with the red cloth interior. We drove it to Georgia once on recapped tires to see Aunt Elaine at some military base and I think to the mountains a time or two. Boots always liked the Mustangs I owned over the years but cautioned me against the habit of driving left handed while resting my right hand on the gear shift.
After she retired, Boots became a recluse. She never went anywhere, spent all day in her night gown sitting in her chair watching TV. She read her westerns and Readers Digest novels over and over. She ate fatback and cornbread...every day. I’m serious. She ate that for lunch every day and lived to be 93! Maybe I should give up salads forever!
When I saw Aunt Bootsie wednesday for the first time in months and for the last time in this world, I was shocked at how thin and frail she had become. I wish I hadn’t gone and prefer to remember the woman in that old black and white photo from 1959 or so: the woman who always had peanuts for me and Richard when we visited.
Aunt Bootsie was not my Aunt, she was my Great Aunt.