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June 04, 2006

Crazy Aunt Ida

Every family has one. The 'odd' relative. The one that makes you know your family is unique, among all those others. I'm not talking about the black sheep, or the family member that went to jail or the noose for being a serial murderer. Nor the famous ones - I'm a second cousin, six times removed, of Meriwether Lewis. Of course, so are several hundreds, possibly thousands, of other people, but I don't let that get in my way. No, I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about...

..the Fun ones. The ones who just saw the world a little differently than the rest of us.

In my family, on my mother's side, that would be Aunt Ida. Born Ida May Meriwether in Paragould, Arkansas, she married Judge William Bandy of the same town. Much to the relief of the Meriwethers, who were wondering who was going to have the stamina to take on Ida Mae.

There are many, many stories about Aunt Ida. I'll dribble them out as I need them...

Judge Bandy was a grandee in Paragould. A man of position, wealth, and the power that goes with it. The Meriwethers, who owned the local hardware store and periodically the mayoralty of the town, were gentlemen farmers and moved in the same high circles. Large fish in what is a small town now, having kinda lost the development fight to Jonesboro. But back in the day, as the county seat, Paragould was what there was.

All that power was futile in the face of Aunt Ida. She recognized no higher authority than that of the Creator, then came her, and after that, well, no matter. You shouldn't take this mean that Aunt Ida was a cruel dictator - far from it. She just lived her life as she saw fit, and the rest of the world could adapt, no matter to her.

Fortunately, all she really cared about was her personal demesne, and her beloved, but thoroughly hen-pecked husband, Judge Bandy.

The thought had been growing in Aunt Ida's mind that her front door just wasn't right. And needed re-placing. No typo there.

It wasn't that the door was wrong, in and of itself. It was a fine, grand, dark oak door, with heavy brass furniture, leaded glass windows and a nice large knocker. It even had newfangled doorbell! No, the door was indeed a fine door, well made, and, with one small caveat, nicely situated where it would do quite well, thank you.


The problem was, it was in the wrong *place*. Ergo, it needed re-placing.

Now, you might think this means that perhaps we're going to do a little remodeling of the home, and move the main entry out a bit, or perhaps over a touch to the left, a bit to the right.

Nope. That wouldn't be right. We can't have that. Everybody knows the Front Door to the house shouldn't open directly into the Living Room! For pity's sakes, that would be monstrously silly!

And over to the right? So that it entered into the Drawing Room? I think not, thank you very much! Nossir! We'll have none of that avant garde thinking here, I'll tell you!

And in nowise am I going to allow you to defile my very nice and comfortable wrap-around porch by extending a vestibule onto the veranda and Spoil The View! I never! Much less the work to rearrange the belt-driven planter's fans that provide a cooling breeze on the sultry Arkansas summer evenings!

No, no - the door needed to be re-placed! Why was that so hard for everyone to understand?

Where? So that it faces the garden and pond - that I might enjoy the pond and the trees and the garden! Where else? What an odd question!

Uncle Bandy did try to reason with Aunt Ida. Quite a bit, actually. But Aunt Ida was a woman of Iron Will. She would make Maggie Thatcher seem a squish in comparison. Catherine the Great *might* muster near the iron - but I doubt it.

So, Judge Bandy, giving in to the inevitable, called on the local builders.

Who came, lifted the house, and rotated it 180 degrees. So that Aunt Ida, at last, could enjoy a proper view from her front porch. Of the back yard.

Remind me, at Christmas, to tell the story of Aunt Ida and the Christmas lights.