05 April 2018

Wading into Murky Waters


Week 14: Maiden Aunt


Wading into Murky Waters

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

Sanky doesn’t fit any of the definitions of a “maiden aunt” — especially the “never married,” “prim,” and “old-fashioned” labels. The “no longer young” characterization never suited her either. She was always young — in looks, fashion, ideas and thinking.

She certainly was no maiden either, but what an aunt she was. She was my Auntie Mame (remember the best-selling 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis?) albeit she never married a millionaire. She was the joy of my childhood and young adulthood. Her laughter floods my memory even today.

 I called her Sanky because I was unable to pronounce her given name and she called me “Pup.” From the time I could remember she was always there for me, spoiling me with gifts (large and small), teaching, helping, encouraging and cheering me on — to learn all I could and be all I could be. Sanky taught me to leap over obstacles, conquer fear, laugh at failures, and see the humor in all situations. She never had any children of her own, but she mothered many.

Sanky was an avid reader and a pace-setter — way ahead of the crowd. Dancing to her own beat, she lived life like someone had left the gate open. Married first at 14 to the consternation of the family, she wore makeup, dyed her hair, drove an automobile (she never bothered to ever get a driver’s license) and followed the latest fashions — or created her own. I knew only one of her husbands, although I was aware of her first one — thanks to family gossip.  It would be years after she was gone that I discovered her many other marital records.

My Aunt Sanky about 1929
By the time I was born, she was a successful owner of a large beauty salon and later a grocery store and still later a real estate business, all accomplished with only an eighth-grade education. She worked hard, loved hard, and spread joy and laughter wherever she was. Color-blind, unbiased, and sharp-witted, she gave often, gladly and quietly to many.

Sanky died way too young at 61, but she left me a treasury of memories — plus some genealogical gems that beguile and befuddle as I wade into the murky waters of her past.  I can hear her laughing now.

1 comment:

  1. You can see the sparkle in her eyes. I wish I had an Aunt Sanky