|Nanny and Aunt Kay. They don't really pertain to this story, but I couldn't find the picture of them with Aunt Laura.|
My great-grandparents had so many kids, it turns out, that the youngest had to be given up to foster care.
But, no, for years I thought it was just the three of them. To this day, the only other one of her siblings I remember meeting was Uncle Jack. One day after class I decided to pay Nanny a visit and a quiet, somewhat unfriendly man opened the door, grunted, and let me in. I had no idea who he was.
That was uncle Jack.
Aunt Kay and Aunt Laura are the ones I remember. They're both gone now unfortunately.
I used to think Aunt Laura was insane.
She was married to a man named Gord Arnold. He died when I was quite young, possibly before I was born. I have no memory of him, but I knew who he was, and I knew he was dead. But for years, during family visits, Aunt Laura would make comments about how she had "been talking to Gord the other day" and how "Gord had fixed the kitchen sink last week, it's about time," and so on and so forth.
I always thought it odd, that Aunt Laura talked to her dead husband. I also thought it was very understanding, albeit a little creepy, that everyone in my family was totally okay with humouring her whenever her dead husband was mentioned in the present tense.
I'm going to be honest. I'm not always quick on the draw. There was a very important puzzle piece missing, one that pertained to the fact that Laura and Gord had about a million kids.
I found this out one day when Nanny was showing me the framed picture of her many, many nieces and nephews that she had received for her birthday that year.
"That's Annie and Donna, and there's Tim, and that's Gord..."
As my mistake became all to clear to me, I dissolved into hysterical laughter.
"OF COURSE! OF COURSE!" I cried. "AUNT LAURA ISN'T CRAZY! HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO NAIVE??"
I had never met my mother's cousin Gord. Or if I did, I had no recollection.
Nanny was alarmed at my outburst, and through the tears streaming down my face, I explained that for years, I had thought that my insane Aunt Laura had been talking to her dead husband and that no one in the family had the heart to set the poor woman straight.
She had been talking about her son the whole time.
Years later, I told Aunt Laura of my ill-conceived notions about her mental health, and to my relief, she was more than a little amused.