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Hoping for spunk at 91

If I knew that I could be as sharp and as spunky as my Aunt Jeanette when I get 91 years old, I might be a content ol’ gal.

That thought crossed my mind the other night sitting across from her at the supper table with tears running down my cheeks from sidesplitting laughter.

Later, I remembered a phone call I got from her one morning.

“I’m dead,” she said.

“What?”

“I’m dead. My name’s in the obituary. I’m dead.”

Aunt Jeanette was always saying that she looked in the newspaper every day to see if her name was in the obituary. And, that day it was. Jeanette Caldwell.

“I’ve pinched myself and I don’t feel dead but I must be. I’m in the obituaries,” she said laughing.

Well, Aunt Jeanette had a lot of fun being dead. She got a bushel of condolence calls and, a chocolate pie and, because we’re Methodist, a lot of casseroles.

I laughingly told her that I guess since she was dead, Net would get the dining room suit.

That’s an inside joke with her, her daughter, Net, and me.

Many years ago when she was going on her first trip in an airplane, Aunt Jeanette was certain that the ride was going to be the death of her. So, all the way to the airport she told Net who was going to get what – from the table lamp to the bed in the guest room.

Just before she boarded the plane, the three of us were occupying the stalls in the ladies’ room and Aunt Jeanette’s voice echoed in the hollowness of the enclosure, “Now, Wynnette, remember, you get the dining room suite.”

And, I love to hear her tell about the time she went to a “big event” in New York. Her hosts told her to take a limousine to her destination. You can imagine their surprise when she arrived in “high style” in a real limo, not the airport shuttle.

“They said take a limo and I took one,” she said laughing.

Aunt Jeanette has had several “milestone” birthday parties. If I remember right, it was on her 80th that she danced the night away even though she had been hampered for some time with a foot problem.

On that night, she threw caution and crutches to the wind and danced up a storm.

On another milestone birthday she rummaged through her closets, cabinets and under the beds and retrieved all of the unused gifts she had been given over the years. She wrapped them carefully and gave them to her birthday party guests. In fact, she “returned” them to some of us.

When she turned 90, Net took her to the beauty parlor to get her hair done. One of the ladies asked her how old she was going to be and she said, “Ninety-six.”

Net asked her why she told that lady that she was going to be 96.

“I don’t know,” she said and added disappointedly.

“But nobody said I didn’t look it.”

One night recently, she was sitting in an easy chair with a stack of mail on the stool in front of her.

“Look at this,” she said.

“Every time I get my mail, it’s full of these address labels with my name on them. They want you to send them a donation. I’m 91, years old. What do I want with a hundred address labels? If I live to be 200 hundred, I couldn’t use them all. Who wants a bunch of labels with butterflies and rainbows on them anyway?”

She got up and walked to the table and came back with a stack of mail.

“Look at this one I got the other day,” she said.

“They sent a nickel with all these labels with flowers on them. And, they want me to send a donation and send the nickel back!”

We laughed about that.

“Send you a nickel and want you to send it back with $10. Have you ever?” she said.

She continued to open the day’s mail, which included psychedelic address labels. She laughed. “Oh, there’s a dime on this one.” She paused to read the card. “Well, they don’t say they want the dime back. I’m going to keep it.”

Aunt Jeanette walked over and opened a drawer, reached in and pulled out a stack of “labels.”

“I’m not ever going to use all of these but I don’t feel right to throw them away,” she said.

“So, I just put them in the drawer and keep them. I don’t know why I do that.”

I didn’t tell her, but I’ve got a draw full of address labels myself.

I’ve even saved some accompanying beads from some religious group in New Mexico.

I didn’t send any money but I wouldn’t dare throw the beads away or wear them for fear they are voodoo beads.

And, I’m like Aunt Jeanette.

If I live to be a hundred, I could never use all of them.

But I just hope that if I make it to 91, I’ll have a sliver of her spunk.

What a great thing that would be.

Jaine Treadwell can be reached at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com