Crazy Aunt Alvina!

March 18, 2015 - Michele Woodburn

Greetings Royal Followers,

We all have family stories. They remind us of where we fit in, who we are now and where we came from. As I sit here listening to the fiddle and harp playing on this glorious Saint Patrick’s feast day, I’m thinking a great deal of old family stories. I grew up listening to stories around the kitchen table. One of my Grandfather’s favorite story sources was his sister, Alvina. She was born at the turn of the century, and was alive well into my adult years, but to my knowledge, was one family member I never got to meet face to face. Too bad for me I think, because Grandpa always said she was “the fun one”.

 Life is like a BIG Estate Sale. You have to pull everything out of the closets and cupboards and look at it closely to know how to proceed.

Alvina was the one everyone wanted to travel with. Most of the snapshots of her show her laughing. She wore capris, sunglasses and head scarves like a starlet, and had the legs to match. I always thought she was incredibly glamorous. But there was always one big question mark. Grandpa always referred to her as “crazy Aunt Alvina”, and everyone else in the room would shake their heads sadly.

Audrey-Hepburn grace kelley capris Jackie in capris

Probably some time around her death, there was talk about Alvina around the kitchen table, and I finally decided that I needed some answers. Family health history is important if one is to have some understanding of one’s own state of health. Life is like a BIG Estate Sale. You have to pull everything out of the closets and cupboards and look at it closely to know how to proceed. So I got brave. If there was a history of mental illness in my family, I wanted to understand what it was. So I asked the question. My mother hesitated a bit before she finally answered. Now I know. Genetic inheritance does matter, and I have inherited Aunt Alvina’s genetic legacy!

Aunt Alvina collected other people’s old things. Especially tea cups. Now when I’m happily ensconced with my tea cups and a pot of tea is brewing, I think often of Aunt Alvina. She was “the fun one”, and ahead of her time! She had discovered the joys of collecting in the Midwest, long before most people there. Trips back to the family farm usually entailed a rummage through the old barn or the chests in the closed upstairs bedrooms for treasures to take back home to California. I rather think my poor relatives now speak of me as they did Aunt Alvina, shaking their heads sadly, and saying “crazy Michele, what does she want with that old stuff?” Just like Crazy Aunt Alvina. I still have one question that was never answered. What ever happened to all of her tea cups?

Ta Ta for now,

Her Serene Majesty, Queen Michele