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The Home


Sheboygan Fibre Furniture postcard

If you have an extended family in your life, one experience I would wish for you is the presence of a widowed aunt. For young kids, this would likely and hopefully be a great aunt.

These women, especially those who are not cursed with extended grief or poverty from the death of their spouse, will often bring a welcome energy to the challenges of childhood.

In my life, I was blessed with some truly good ones. My grandfather’s younger sister was a real peach: Aunt Barbara. “Bebe” to us kids. Aunt Bebe was a fairly free spirit, especially for a woman born in 1907. She had once, and only once, been married; to a wealthy older man. She was widowed by the time she was in her late 30s.

With no children from this union, Bebe had sold their spacious home in town and purchased a tidy ranch house in the suburbs, furnishing it with the splendid artifacts from her previous life. Classy stuff: a lovely carved wooden pole lamp from Seville, marble bookends featuring a bust of Longfellow, and my personal favorite: a large oil painting of a forest scene that hung over her sofa.

The long list of memories I have of Bebe include some wonderful personal traits – the kind that travel well over time: generosity of spirit, a sense of humor, a gracious ease. Bebe was already well past 50 when I first knew her. By age 7, I had concluded she was really cool. I realize now that means she really must have been.

Sure, it was whoever she was, rather than whatever she owned. But my Aunt Bebe taught me there is a relationship between the two. Personal items of distinctive quality can hold their end up pretty well. This too does tend to travel well over time. Turns out, I wound up with those marble bookends. It provided for a great legacy. Every time we cross paths, I’ll remember them sitting in Aunt Bebe’s little house and I think: "Cool."

Song, Artist, Album

Odds And Ends, Bob Dylan / The Band, Basement Tapes

Estate Sale, Cheryl Wheeler, Circles And Arrows

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed

Rockin’ Chair, Hoagy Carmichael, Hoagy Sings Carmichael

Beautiful Homes, Chris Isaak, San Francisco Days

Richard & Linda Thompson, A Heart Needs A Home, Watching The Dark

A House Is Not A Home, Ella Fitzgerald, Live At Montreux 1969

This House Is Empty Now, Elvis Costello, Painted From Memory

Things That Work, Guy Clark, Dublin Blues

Antiques And Curios, Strawbs, Antiques and Curios