Where do I begin to write about Aunt Rebecca? She has been the bane of my life since I first met her at Christmas when I was four years old. Her house is so big I got lost. Mitch found me asleep in the corner of a guest room on the third floor. What a scary time!
When I was six years old, Aunt Rebecca showed up with no warning to help with the holidays. (Andi’s Circle C Christmas). She drove me crazy. I think she drove everybody else crazy too, but they are all too polite to disrespect her. I wanted to put spiders in her bed, but Melinda said I better not. So I didn’t. I even worse a scratchy red Christmas dress. I ended up on an ill-fated buggy ride, where the wheel came off . . . in the rain, no less, and Aunt Rebecca and I were forced to ride home on Pal’s back. What an experience!
When I was nine and a half, I ended up staying with Aunt Rebecca for almost a month (Andi Far from Home). She dressed me in a sailor suit that time, just like Prince Albert, who was some little prince who lived in England.
Then, just when I thought I as free from Aunt Rebecca, I overheard my family talking about my staying with her yet again. Yikes! It came to pass for real when Fresno flooded. Off I went to Aunt Rebecca in San Francisco to finish out the school term at a young ladies’ school (San Francisco Smugglers).
I’ll try to be fair. It’s hard, though, because Aunt Rebecca has always been one for sticking her nose in our family’s business, and mostly in my business. I dread her visits to the ranch. It’s always “Andrea, stop running. Andrea, can’t you ever walk like a lady? Andrea, a young lady’s skin should not be so tan. You’re brown as an Indian. Andrea, you should spend less time with that smelly horse.” (The Last Ride). And so on until I find myself spending every waking minute as far away from Auntie as I can get, usually up at my special spot with Taffy.
Aunt Rebecca lives in a fancy house in San Francisco. She’s always trying to talk my mother into letting me stay with her, so she can set me on the right path in society. Trouble is, I figure I’m already on the “right” path. I don’t want to spend time in the city. It gives me the shivers to think about being trapped in San Francisco for more than a day or two. I dreaded it so much, in fact, that one year when I was almost twelve, I took off because I heard my family talking about packing me off to Aunt Rebecca’s. Looking back, I realize that was stupid of me. I should have just sat down and talked it over with my mother instead of running away. (Long Ride Home)
Anyway, Aunt Rebecca is my father’s oldest sister. She never married, so she’s what folks call a “spinster.” She’s from Boston, Massachusetts. I don’t know why she never married. She was a really pretty young woman, who wore the most outrageous hats. Her hair was dark like mine, but when she got old, it turned white, so it’s hard to see any resemblance between Aunt Rebecca as a young woman and when she is old. A young fan, pen name Martha Abilene, wrote a story explaining why Aunt Rebecca never married. It won third place in the 2019 Circle C short-story contest.
Read “The Tragic Friendship” >>
When her parents died (way before I was born), my father welcomed her out West. She was delighted to make a place for herself in San Francisco. That way she could be closer to her dear brother’s family (that’s what she said). She interferes a lot, but my mother overlooks it because she’s family. Thankfully, my mother doesn’t let Auntie boss me too much.
When Aunt Rebecca and my cousin Daniel came to the ranch in the spring of 1883, I was sixteen and in my last year of school. Auntie had a heart problem during that visit. It really scared me, and I suddenly realized I love her a lot. So it was with great sadness that she passed away in January of 1886, just six months before I was married. Believe it or not, I really miss her!