My Baby Daddy’s first name is Charlie. There has been a great deal of debate in the 12 years since I joined this clan as to whether he was named for his Aunt Charley or Charlene, as some folks called her. The answer seems to have less to do with history than who was speaking to whom at the time.
Baby Daddy actually had two fabulous aunts on his father’s side. They were both eat up with sass. I loved them. When I joined the family, I was so young, I barely had my sea legs with regard to marriage or family or anything. This family was big, loud, loving and overwhelming. The aunts swooped in with their beauty shop hair-dos and individual style and made sure I never wanted for someone to chat with at family functions. We lost Aunt Bonnie a couple of years ago. Aunt Charley passed on today. I am not the only one who will miss her terribly.
Aunt Charley told hilarious stories. She liked to end stories about her rebellious ways with regard to her husband’s “rules” with, “… cause where’s he going?!” She was not allowed to have credit cards and for many years didn’t. But after 45 years of marriage, she decided she needed a Dillard’s charge card. This did not set well with Uncle Troy. He wanted her to get rid of it. But she told me she refused, “cause where’s he going?” Then he told her she could not carry a balance. But she said some months she did anyway, “cause where’s he going?”
The best story about Aunt Charley is one she told me when I’d only been married to Baby Daddy for a few months. We went to their 50th Wedding Anniversary party. She pulled me aside to tell me something she said was very important. She said years before the oven was about to go out in her kitchen. Christmas was coming up and she’d set her sights on a diamond tennis bracelet. Uncle Troy asked her if she wanted the bracelet or a new oven. She said she picked the bracelet because she figured he’d eventually get hungry enough to buy her the new oven too. She leaned in very close and said to me, “Honey, in this life, when you get the choice, ALWAYS pick the bracelet.”
Aside from the obvious comedy of that statement, it’s good advice. Sometimes in life you have to do the hard thing. Sometimes, there are no good options available and you have to pick the least bad. Sometimes, life just sucks. But sometimes, you get to decide to do something nice for yourself and too often, we don’t. We pick the mundane, the tired, the reliable or responsible thing when there is a perfectly valid, frivolous option available. I’m not advocating reckless spending, the fact of the matter is, they had the money for both and she knew it. So she made herself feel good. She raised three children and had a strong hand in raising her brother and a few grandchildren. She deserved to feel good once in awhile. Truthfully, she deserved to feel good about herself every day. So she picked the bracelet. And she taught me to do the same. Get the massage; eat the cookie, spend 20 minutes alone with a good book. Do something for you. Or the weight of your life and your responsibilities will chew you up and spit you out. Honey, in this life, when you get the choice, always pick the bracelet.
She was a real dame. May her soul find rest. May we all find peace in a world with a little less sass today.