My mom and her twin sister always had a way of being opposites. Mom, the conservative peacemaker and my aunt, the liberal mischief-maker.
It was quite the experience growing up with what I lovingly refer to as “Two Moms.” Believe me; you don’t get away with much with four eyes and ears on guard 24/7, especially when those eyes and ears insisted on living two streets apart from one another in the same neighborhood!
I describe my mom as “Aunt Bee” from Mayberry, and my aunt as “Calamity Jane.” God rest my aunt’s beautiful and rambunctious soul, as her passing on Labor Day 2006 was, and is, felt by our family as a “big puzzle piece” missing from the Jig-saw of our lives.
I remember the time mom and my aunt planned a road trip to their parent’s farm in Missouri. My boyfriend at the time and I went to say goodbye and make sure they had everything they needed for the sixteen-hour trip from Florida.
When we arrived at mom’s house, the two of them were just wrapping up the final details. The car trunk was so loaded it nearly dragged on the road, and the back seats as well as a good portion of the front seats were packed to the gills! There they were, The Baldwin Sisters from The Waltons, about to head out on their great adventure back to the same cotton fields, thirty-five years prior, they fled in search of “something better.”
As we took a quick inventory of the necessities needed for a two-day road trip, I was reminded of the (at that time) recent tragedy of Michael Jordan’s father who was ambushed at a rest stop in the Carolinas while traveling. So I said, “Now you two please be careful, especially when you stop at those rest stops. Remember what happened to Michael Jordan’s dad?”
Well, I should have warned my friend to be on the look out for anything outrageous, which can happen at any moment those two are together.
In a split second, my aunt reached into her “Samsonite-sized” purse, whipped out a .38 Special hand gun, and waved it around in the air, exclaiming, “Don’t you worry about us. Anyone comes our way is gonna get this!”
As I watched the blood run out of my friend’s face and I dodged, looking for cover, I shouted, “Aunt Jerry is that thing loaded? Do you know how to use that gun?”
“Of course I do,” Aunt Jerry replied with the self-assurance of Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, and Bonnie Parker, all three wrapped up in her giant-sized and adorable, albeit somewhat dangerously hysterical personality.
After we got Annie Oakley’s gun packed back in her purse, we made sure they were ready and had everything they needed to begin their journey, kissed and hugged goodbye, and watched as they drove that big Buick down the street and off toward the Florida Turnpike.
When their car disappeared around the corner, I looked over at my friend and said, “Well, now you have met two of the most unique twin sisters on earth, Aunt Bee and Ma Barker.”
Still a little shaken from the display of my aunt’s weaponry and her bold determination to stake her territory, my friend said, “Man, I saw my life pass before my eyes when I saw that gun come out of that bag. Does she really know how to use it?”
Well, I never did know if my aunt knew how to use a gun, and in the fifty years I knew her, I had never seen her shoot any gun, although it was common knowledge that she was a “Gun-totin’ Mama” in her own right.
She has gone on “home” now, and I know I’ll see her again one day. I just hope she has learned the proper use of a handgun, and the folks enjoying her unpredictable and beautiful soul now appreciate and love her as we all did! She was a special lady and she is very, very missed by the many people she touched with her own style of unique complexities.
Here’s to you, Aunt Jerry! No target shooting at your fellow angles now! We love you and we will see you again one day!