She was an aunt, not an auntie. Nothing so affectionate in her title. There was a no-nonsense English coolness about her – a trait that afflicted everyone in the family. She wasn’t a warm and cozy auntie, she was a rather forbidding aunt.

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Author: Virginia DeBolt

Writer and teacher who writes blogs about web education, writing practice, and pop culture.

5 thoughts on “Auntie”

  1. One of my friends uses “auntie” as the driving signature in her e-mail address. I’m so glad for this opportunity to say that this revolts me. I’d never tell her because it was probably dreamed up so her many nieces and nephews can communicate with her in the way they’re accustomed. It’s foreign to me. Growing up I never used the diminutive for “aunt” and it was never expected. Aunt was a title of respect and connection, but I would still be put off if a friend expected me to address her e-mails with that title as major appellation. Thanks for giving space to rant.

  2. Aunt Mabel
    Aunt Mabel was a fun presence in my life while growing up in southwest Michigan. We never called her ‘auntie’ or any other aunt ‘auntie.’ She was just Aunt Mabel. I came to learn that she and Uncle Frank were my dad’s foster parents for several years. They lived on a farm in Odessa, Michigan I believe but no record of their address was kept, and at this point in time, perhaps their farm doesn’t even exist now. Dad said he learned many life lessons on that farm from both his aunt and uncle. He wrote a small book about it.
    Aunt Mabel would come to our house a few times a year in Grand Rapids, after Uncle Frank died. When she did, Mom would fire up the fryer with Crisco or whatever shortening was used in the fifties, and the two of them would make a double batch of Aunt Mabel’s homemade buttermilk donuts. The best! I still have the recipe and make them once a year or so, as they are so irresistible, you eat them all within a week. Not good! Gone are the days when you can make things like this and just enjoy them without worrying about cholesterol and calories. Aunt Mabel lived to be ninety-something so pooh on cholesterol. Besides her recipe, I also have Dad’s book of memories about his life with them. They were every bit affectionate, loving people with or without the title of ‘auntie.’ I wonder where that phrase came from anyway–there’s no such syrupy comparative for the uncle. Ha!

  3. We used the word “chuch” for our aunts in the family. That is phonetically spelled meaning aunt in a foreign language. We did so with lots of love. We did have one great aunt who absolutely did not fit into our family. She married into the family. None of us could warm up to her. Nor she to us. She never had children. She did have a very grouchy small pooch that she brought over to the house for all holiday dinners. She also went to the hair stylist weekly and owned a mink coat. Her red nail polish was never chipped. Never did the thought enter her mind to join all the other females in the kitchen to lift lids off pots and take pleasure in sniffing or stirring. Never did it enter her mind to join in after the meal to help clean up. I don’t think I imagined this but her nose turned up skyward. Of course, all of us children giggled and made fun of her calling her “auntie” (sounds like “Awwwntee”). “Auntie Pauntie” Our thought was a nicer sounding nickname than “fancy pants.” Not very nice of us but that is how we viewed her snooty attitude. If she only could have been a little more down to earth. We didn’t expect her to live up to being a fun aunt like Auntie Mame for gosh sakes. Just loosen up a bit and be human.

  4. My aunt drove in her enormous , air conditioned SUV , roaring through dust and potholes , to meet us . Or rather , meet my grandparents . As we lived with our grandparents , she had to meet us too , no escaping . She was rich and snooty . Everything about her dripped with opulence , making us feel like threadbare beggars in contrast .

    She would come with a retinue of servants . One to fetch her stuff from the car , heat her bathwater , massage her feet , and the other to drive her beastly vehicle . She used air conditioning at a time when we had just about memorised its spelling . Everything about her was mesmerisingly foreign , and otherworldly . She used a vanity case to get dressed . We had definitely heard of one , but never seen one being used . She used innumerable lotions and powders on her pretty face , lipstick and lipgloss , mascara and other foreign -sounding things . She smelt heavenly ,like a God . We thought she floated on air.

    She would make us feel wretched for days on end .We would take roughly a week to recover from her whistle stop visits (always unannounced), some of us would even miss school. My mother would mope around with a dazed look , embittered to the core.

    Aunt was her sister-in-law , and it didn’t help . Ma too had come from a similar background of unbridled consumerism , and she was hit hard by my grandparents’ parsimonious ways , and general austere outlook to life.

    Remarks like “even Monu (the foot-massager) won’t eat this stuff “, would cut her to the quick . Her wounds were deep , and never healed . We would go back to school , talk to classmates , make fun of Aunt , and get her out of our systems . Ma couldn’t . Aunt was , all said and done , my grandparents’ daughter . All that resentment kept sitting inside Ma , going bad .

  5. She was called Auntie, although not a real aunt to the three young girls under her care. Her charges lived with her full time due to their family situation. One of these girls grew up with memories of this woman she carried through life.

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