What's In Your Closet?

She lived like a pauper. When my brother found her immobilized in her favorite chair, he took her to the hospital. They brought her back from certain death and she lived another five years in a comfortable rest home where she was the cheeriest of all the patients. She was fool of surprises like that at the end of her life. When I was a kid she was a persnickety old spinster to the naked eye. Looking back she may have been a swinging single lesbian - I really don't know. She lived in a time when women married or seemed to waste away alone in the midwest. As a Great Aunt she would come babysit and force us to watch Lawrence Welk on rainy days. But she also applauded when my sister and I used our shawls as hulu skirts and put on dances for her and she would let me hide my face in her chair if there was something scary on TV. She was a nice woman unless you pissed her off and generally people did.

After she went in the nursing home we went to her "cold water flat" as mother would refer to it, and cleaned everything up to be moved into storage. It was a disgusting mess. Very sad that such a tidy woman would forget how to take care of herself let alone her small apartment. Anyway, we cleaned and organized finding treasures from long ago - family pictures and all that. Finally, we got to her closet in the hallway. We found there a tremendous amount of shoe boxes. Aunt Anna only had one pair of shoes... Inside the boxes we began to find tons and tons of change purses. Inside the change purses, we found hundreds - no thousands - no tens of thousands of dollars in change and old five dollar bills. Here she was living in squallor and she had a huge amount of money (perhaps to send out those birthday cards that all used to contain a dollar?). We were stunned. In disbelief we put it all back in the shoe boxes and took it back to my house where it was deemed to be "safe" while we thought about what to do.

We cried over the fact she had money while she went hungry. We agonized over what the "right" thing to do would be. Finally, it was determined that my brother, who was the person she had always been able to call for rides and the occasional bat in the belfrey,... my brother... would be the keeper of her hidden money. For the rest of her life he took care of her with her own money and had enough left over when she was gone to put a down payment on a home and get his family out of a very bad neighborhood.

Blessings - That is what my aunt had hiding in her closet.

jenvice jenvice
46-50, F
9 Responses Aug 20, 2012

Very moving to read. How sad that one has not taken care of ones self but has be lavish in giving to others. Sacrificial life that she has led which for us may seem ignorance...She will have her reward for the selfless life that she lived

She lived a mysterious life really when I think about it. She was probably out of her time. I have no idea why she thought anyone would want her to live in want to save for others. She lived in some of the poorest conditions anyone in my family ever experienced. Perhaps she remained in the Great Depression mindset long after it passed. She and my grandparents were of that generation. My grandparents always had hordes of supplies in closets and under their beds I supposed they were saving for a rainy day.

Sad that people get in that shape. I like your writing technique thanks for sharing.

Thank you I appreciate the compliment. And she lived several years past that incident and was happy to do so. The last time I saw her alive - she and her brother (my grandfather) were sitting holding hands and smiling and laughing about their childhood.

Cool, I'm glad she was happy.

Good story... well told. Brief, sentimental, and well told with a minimum of words.


Thank you I considered a favorable assessment from you sincere and valuable

That is an awesome story! A combination of sad, and sweet...

Thank You - She deserved to have some legacy beyond the family. The fact people read this story and get to know a bit about her somehow makes me feel as if she gets a bit of deserved recognition. She was quite a lady.

She sure sounds like it! :-)

This is a great story and well written! Such lovely detail and so honest. Thanks for sharing

Thanks for reading and responding so kindly.

What a great story, I really enjoyed it. It feels like it has much to offer in many places.

what a terriffic heartwarming story! Your Aunt sounds like quite a character, ... you must have so many great memories of her.

Thanks! I do.

That's a great story. Heartwarming.

i like that story :)

Thanks, someone asked "What's in your closet?" in the question section. It made me think of my Aunt.

true story?

Yes it is a true story.