My main memory of my Aunt Lulu is her apparent dyspeptic personality. She always looked like she needed a Tums. Something had gone down wrong at dinner, and was sitting uneasily in her stomach. And her face wasn’t happy about it.
Of course, as a boy barely old enough to use two hands to count my age, I wasn’t great at interpreting facial expressions. I’m still not. In fact, I can barely recognize faces, let alone interpret them. I certainly didn’t understand that time weathers the fairest skin, and expressions can be misleading. So although she always looked a bit belligerent to my young eyes, she treated me very kindly. Her countenance and her deportment just didn’t seem to match. She was Winston Churchill with Betty Boop’s personality.
The second thing I remember about Aunt Lulu is her voice. Deep, gravelly, intimidating – at least, that’s how it seemed to me. I was always a bit afraid of her. For all I know, choirs of angels sang in heaven whenever she spoke, but I quaked down here on Earth. I aspired to have such as voice when I became a man, but it didn’t happen. Not enough cigarettes, I suspect.
I vividly remember her hair. Bright, flaming, put-Lucille-Ball-to-shame red. Whether it was natural, I couldn’t say. At the time, I didn’t know that not all hair color was natural. It seemed to suit her personality, though. She was always talking, using that resonant voice to command the conversation, and the hair certainly added to her being the center of attention. That was no easy trick, considering her charismatic husband – my Uncle Jackson, debonair as David Niven. He’s a story for another day.
I imagine they were quite the captivating couple in their youth, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh on a shoestring. Of course, at the time, such thoughts didn’t occur to me. My aunt and uncle seemed ancient then from my perspective. I also had no knowledge at the time about Clark and Vivien. But in retrospect, I’ll bet they were the cat’s meow, the bee’s knees, and any other expression that was in vogue at the time.
I don’t remember much more about her; our paths crossed a limited number of times, and young memories fade like old watercolors. But, like her hair, she flamed brightly enough to burn her image in my memory.
Oh, yes, she was quite a lulu – as I remember her.