I was recently had the opportunity to attend a dinner in the private home of a board member of Writer’s and Books, a non-profit literary organization in Rochester, NY. Along with the espresso served at meal’s end were these thin, almost see-through, cookies. I looked at them in wonder and asked, “Are these lace cookies?” The hostess smiled and said, “Yes. They are.” Each bite brought back more memories of my Aunt Alda.
Aunt Alda was my mother’s older sister. She never married, though we heard she had more than one proposal. She taught school in Haddenfield, NJ, for over thirty years so I only saw her during the summer and over Christmas vacation until she retired and moved north to live near us. I can remember going to the train station to pick her up at Christmas time. During her visit she would play card and dice games with just me, or read stories. I don’t remember my mother doing that when I was little, so I looked forward to her visits.
I do remember my mother being proud of me for being the only one in my second grade class that knew what state I lived in. That was because it was my job to mail the letters she wrote her sister. And, in those days you didn’t have to teach your child their full address as soon as they could talk. Life was simpler in the ’50’s and ’60’s. You knew your neighbor’s names, and kids ran all over the small towns in the southern tier of New York state with no fear of who might be lurking.
I digress. Once Aunt Alda retired I saw her most every day. She would eat dinner at our house most nights, and we ate at her house once a week. We being me and my mother. My older sisters were out of the house by then and my father was still working from 3pm – 11pm. I enjoyed suppertime because there was always talk of current events, local town news, and church events.
It was Aunt Alda that took me to Rochester every week to visit my mother when she was in the hospital through out my last three years in school. It was Aunt Alda who took me shopping for a new dress for my mother’s funeral when I was a senior, and it was she who answered some of life’s most difficult questions. I think of her often. She is also the only one who had ever made me lace cookies!