My Aunt Blanch

I Remember Aunt Blanch.

We all have things we remember about our relatives and neighbors as we were growing up. Those memories vary all the way from fun, kindness and love, to intimidation, fear and anger. My Aunt Blanch falls in the first category. She and Uncle Byrd lived in town. Can you imagine having an aunt and uncle named Blanch and Byrd, two strange names for two lovely people? My mom, sisters and I lived just a half-mile east outside of town. Since my family had no transportation other than walking it was often up to me, from the age of eight to the age of twelve to walk into town to pick up groceries or what ever was needed. We moved away when I was twelve to another community five miles east. The grocery store I went to was on Main Street. It just so happened that Aunt Blanch and Uncle Byrd lived on the street before you got to the grocery store and only a couple of blocks off of main street. You could often see Uncle Byrd sitting on Main Street next to the old railroad tracks, near the grocery with the other “old” men but you had to go to their house to see Aunt Blanch. Some times, if I wasn’t on a time schedule, I would walk over to their house and say hello to her.

Aunt Blanch was my fathers’ older sister. She had never had any children of her own but she seemed to love all children and I remember that she was one of the most genuinely nice ladies I had ever known. She would come out onto the porch when she heard me knock and sort of reach for my face with just a light touch, as she would rest her hand on my shoulder. She would always sort of cock or lean her head to her left side and smile. This was always her greeting to me and it was always done with a smile. She would ask me how I was, how my mom was and if my sisters were all right. She would offer me something to drink and some times a little snack of something home made. We would sit on the porch and chitchat about family, farming, weather really just about anything that interested us. Can you imagine an eight year old and what was then to me an old lady, chatting. It worked and we both enjoyed it. Sometimes we would go inside and she would play the piano for me. She played by ear, I never saw her with a sheet of music, and I could have sat all day long and listened to her. She knew a wealth of songs by heart and she played everything with an old time ragtime or boogie rhythm. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch and listen to her play that piano. I believe she could have played professionally during the roaring thirties when ragtime music was so popular. She was always so kind, so sweet and so much fun.

I now live over two hundred miles from my old home town where Aunt Blanch lived, Uncle Byrd passed away many years ago, and I seldom get there to see anyone. Just a couple of months ago my wife and I had to go to the area for a funeral for an uncle from the other side of the family so while I was there I dropped in to visit with Aunt Blanch and her sister Mildred who then lived together. They live together in the old home that my grandmother and grandfather lived in when I was a young boy living next door to them with my mother and sisters. We had a good visit and Aunt Blanch played the piano for us, just as well as she ever had. My wife was amazed at the way she played with the ragtime beat and how well she played the piano especially since she was then ninety two years old.

A while back I received an e-mail from my cousin who lives next door to my two aunts informing me that Aunt Blanch had passed away. As I sat and thought about how glad I was that I had been able to visit her just a short time ago I was saddened to think of such a kind, gentle person being gone out of my life. Then I realized that she would never be gone. I will always be able to picture the gentle touch to my cheek, the hand on my shoulder, the tilted head, the smile and all of the kindness she showed to me when I was a small boy. I will especially be able to hear her play that piano. As I get older I realize how many of the really important memories in a person’s life are composed of things that at the time seemed so insignificant, a gentle touch, a smile, and a kindness. I hope someone somewhere someday will be able to remember me with just part of the good thoughts that I have for my Aunt Blanch. I really wish I had a tape of her playing the piano.

My Aunt Blanch


Marquand, United States

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Artist's Description

A story about one of my favorite anunts.

Artwork Comments

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