Aunt Goldie's Legacy

Circa 1955: probably a potty break on our way through the mountains to Detroit
L/R: Dad the shadow, sister Linda, Mom, Aunt Goldie, me, sister Libby
Praise the risen season. Praise linens infused with April’s scented sunshine, forsythia, and daffodils. Praise the memory of Aunt Golda Mae.
As all her nieces and nephews, my sisters and I called her Aunt Goldie—the epitome of joy contained in a four-foot spinster. Dad’s home movies remain proof of Aunt Goldie’s honored place in our Detroit household. When Dad brought Mom home from the hospital with my sister Patty, the fourth of five O’Brien daughters, Aunt Goldie held our new baby as if she was her own.  
I was seven then. By my tenth birthday, the top of my head had inched above hers where she nested and pinned her long plaits.
In all the seasons Aunt Goldie lived with us during my childhood, I never heard a disparaging word proceed from her mouth. And believe me, she had reason. A survivor of infantile spinal meningitis, her deafness had claimed her disabled and dependent upon her older sisters and younger brother, my father.
Aunt Goldie was my dearest relative on Dad’s side. She was my grownup playmate who could skip rope faster than anyone without a miss. She’d hold the hem of her skirt with one hand and touch the ground with the other and sing her jumping songs.
I can’t remember her departures for Kentucky to help her older sisters for a spell. There’s no defining moment when she walked through our door again. As I reflect upon life with Aunt Goldie, I realize our household sparkled with certain order and spit shine when she dwelled under our roof.
Mom was happy for her helper. I doubt my sisters and I thanked her enough, if ever. Sometimes Aunt Goldie’s unconditional affection for my sisters and me overwhelmed her and she’d bite her tongue and pat us on our legs.
My little aunt loved laundry day. Dad barbered on Saturdays, so she took run of the house, stripping beds and sliding windows open to fumigate Dad’s cigarette smoke from mattresses, clothes, and upholstered furniture.
In pleasant weather, since my aunt was too short to hang sheets on the line outside, Mom kept charge of the clothes posts. I helped by holding up the opposite end of a sheet while Aunt Goldie’s stubby fingers, noticeably all one length, scrubbed whatever she could reach inside. The kitchen was her specialty.
Her pay came that afternoon with a walk to the local party store. “Now Goldie,” Mom would say, “I want you to take Linda and Iris to Pat’s and buy yourself whatever you want.”
That was a big deal because only with Aunt Goldie could we cross Hoover Road to Pat’s where she always bought cheesy popcorn. She shared with Linda and me.
Later that night, dressed in fresh pajamas, we slipped between sundried sheets.
“Thank you, Jesus,” she’d pray, then grind her teeth until she fell asleep.
Dear Reader, I awoke this Sunday morning with the scent of April on my pillow. “Thank you, Aunt Golda Mae,” I prayed.