Things That Remind Me Of My Great-Aunt Mert

1. Halls cough drops, the yellow ones
2. Roses- seeing them, smelling them. They grew beautiful roses.
3. She always called her purse her "pocketbook." I love that.
4. Pink Dove soap. I used to walk by it at the store and smell it just to remember her. I bought some at Schnucks this week, and I can smell it all over our house.
5. Her skin was always so cool, but it was silky and warm at the same time. She was the coziest person ever.
6. The song Make Me Down a Pallet On Your Floor by Gillian Welch. She used to make us cozy pallets in the living room to nap and watch TV with blankets and bed pillows. Their house always made me sleepy, because it was so comfortable and safe.
7. Any time I see someone lying on the floor with their feet pointed to the TV. She wouldn't let us lie like that because she said we wouldn't be able to have babies.
8. Back scratches- no one does them better than she did. She filed her long nails often and they were always perfect for a good scratch.
9. She had this blue/purple mole at the bottom of her neck on her chest. It used to freak me out.
10. Their radio in the kitchen used to play softly 24 hours a day.
11. Those little candies that are like caramel Tootsie Rolls that are either pink, blue, or yellow. And Hershey's miniatures. And Werther's Originals. Their candy drawer was the second one down to the right of the refrigerator.
12. Beauty pageants- we used to watch Miss America with my sisters and make score sheets and rate the contestants and pick our favorites.
13. They had the best cabinet that was also Mert's end table by "her seat" on the couch. It had Cool Whip tubs full of crayons, Big Chief tablets, coloring books, lined tablets, and those things you could draw on the plastic sheet with the plastic "pen" then lift up the plastic sheet to erase it. They also bought us those big 64 crayon boxes with the sharpener on the box, which was really fancy for us.
14. I would love to have the wallpaper that was in their kitchen and hallway.
16. Every time I drive by the Lebanon exit on Hwy 44- I used to go their with her and Donald to Mert's doctor appointments
17. Every time I make mashed potatoes, I use what I think is her recipe, but must not be, because they don't taste 1/100th as good as hers did.
18. She always, always wore those thick white support/control stockings. Those must have been really uncomfortable, and even more uncomfortable to NOT wear them, which makes me sad for her.
19. They used to decorate their huge cactus in the living room for Christmas instead of bringing in a tree.
20. Their 3rd bedroom was converted into a yarn room for Mert to keep her shelves and shelves of yarn and crochet supplies.
21. Fishing. Donald was a terrific fisherman, and he and Mert would take us out on their boat for the day. I would catch little tiny perch and then we would eat chicken nuggets and drink grape juice and Mert would put wet washcloths in ziploc bags and keep them in the cooler to cool off our hands and faces if it got too hot on the water.
22. I didn't really have a traditional grandma. She filled that role for us. She let us have candy and cookies and junky cereal and drink Kool-Aid with our meals and have cans of grape juice for no reason and was an amazing cook. They would take us to Wal-Mart to buy us anything we wanted. We would eat meals with them, and they babysat us. She gave her whole life for us.
23. She loved us like crazy. I hope that I can love that well.
24. I loved the smell of their house. If I remember really hard, I can still smell it. And sometimes it's mixed with their wood fireplace.
25. My little sister always got to sit with Uncle Donald in his chair. I was always too nervous to ask if I could sit their, too. I'm glad I just let that be their special thing. I loved snuggling with Mert, so it wasn't like I had it rough or anything.
26. We used to play kickball in their front yard. I wish I remembered the bases. I think that first base was the corner of the wrought-iron fence around their front porch, and third base was a pine tree.
27. Their front driveway was a super-steep gravel one. They would say "push! push!" and we would all push the dashboard, seat in front of us, whatever thinking we could help push the car up the hill.


  1. 28. We played a lot of "hide and seek" in their house.
    29. The wagon wheel coffee table.
    30. The clock on the mantle.
    31. It was always really, really cool in their house--Mert didn't like to be hot. I can still picture her fanning herself.
    32. Donald's peanuts.
    33. I can still feel the texture of that maroon suede/velvet rocker chair that sat next to Donald's chair.
    34. Donald's gun cabinet.
    35. The refrigerator in the garage with neatly lined cans of Pepsi and Sprite.
    36. Donald's coveted "Red Eyed Rebel" fishing lure. I once watched him strip down and jump into the lake to retrieve it from a sunken log.
    37. Mert's fried boneless chicken. It looked like the kind you see on Chinese food buffets but was much better.
    38. That brown car with the slick seats. I can still remember how that smelled as well.
    39. Trips to Aurora.
    40. I always told Mert I would never stop coming to eat dinner with her on Thursday nights--no matter what. What I wouldn't give to have another shot at that....

  2. Begonias always remind me of them, too. That's why I always plant them in my pots.

    I have part of a tomato in a baggie in my freezer just so I can use it with my tacos one day. She always made me tacos on the side so I would have something to eat. I never remember her complaining about me being a vegetarian or being anything less than accommodating. And often she would get a tomato out of the freezer to chop up. I'd never seen Mom or anyone freeze a tomato before, and sometimes it would be really, really cold on my tacos, which was kind of weird, but I didn't mind.

    Those baby dolls.

    Her brown car was named Betsy.

    Travel trailers.

    We usually spent the night at her house the one time a year that The Wizard of Oz played on television.