The Aunt Evelyn Report

Today’s word of the day, from Wordsmith.org, bears the simplest definition.

Fleet Street. noun. The British Press.

You might think a few words of meaning would make for an easy quick write on Wednesday’s word. Not for me. It’s the little things that trip me up in life.  The etymology of Fleet Street, however, sheds a little more light on a tough challenge :

After Fleet Street in London, once the center of British journalism.

I, like my son, do not like to lose at anything, so sometimes I make up the rules as I go along — it’s called being flexible. And, I say, since etymology directly affects a definition, it counts as usable material when concocting a story around Wednesday’s word.

[Check back next week for a Guest Post on Wednesday’s Word by Ann M. Lynn at Shadows in Mind]

*****

The Aunt Evelyn Report

Aunt Evelyn was like Fleet Street, personified, a real hub-bub of information.

That’s what her British boyfriend said, anyway. Aunt Evelyn met Richard on a Retirement Cruise last winter. It wasn’t a cruise for those en route to retirement, but if you were retired, you could cruise.

And, Aunt Evelyn did.

She came home with a sunburn, a bag of stories illustrated with souvenirs, and a new boyfriend. Richard lived in D.C., but he flew out to Ohio every few weeks to visit Aunt Evelyn.

“I fly out here to love on Evelyn and to get the facts straight on the latest news. Your Aunt has more credentials than the Washington Post!”

The amazing part was that Aunt Evelyn often knew what was happening even before the person to whom it happened.

Once, I stood in the cold on the side of the freeway and stared at my car. The last two minutes of driving had felt like I’d been four-wheeling in the bed of a dried up creek, and I couldn’t figure out why. Before I made the circle around my car, I looked up and saw Aunt Evelyn’s black Lincoln pull over behind me. She stepped out of the car and held up her index finger up, signaling me to hold up a minute. She was talking on her cell phone.

“Yes. That’s Right. Thank you so much, Mr. Frederickson.”

“Aunt Evelyn? What-”

“I just happened to pull onto the freeway about two miles back, and I saw you pull over. Looks like your passenger side front tire failed you. I’ve got AAA on the way.”

“You just happened to pull onto the freeway?”

She told me to get into her car and warm up while we waited. “Sometimes life works that way, honey.”

But, life always seemed to work that way for Aunt Evelyn.

When my fiancé broke up with me, Aunt Evelyn appeared at my door before I had a chance to let it sink in that he was gone. My fiancé had been facebooking with his high school sweetheart and decided she knew him better than me, even though they only dated for a year – fifteen years ago – and we’d been together for the last five. Ten minutes after he took the engagement ring off my finger and drove off in his new Mazda rx-8 (black with gold pin stripes), Aunt Evelyn rang the doorbell. She held out a bouquet of flowers.

“I was just on my way to the mall, and I bought these flowers off an old man at the corner, just a few blocks from your house. I thought you might like a little pick-me-up on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.”

I broke down, and she ushered me into the kitchen. She poured me a glass of tea and told me, men come and go.

“Love is blind, and you never know when the end is near.” She spoke from experience. Husband number one left her for the neighbor’s daughter. Husband number two took off for a “business venture” in Hawaii, with his best friend.

“What every girl needs is a nice Brit from out east who only visits for long weekends.” She patted my shoulder and said she’d be back after her errands to take me out to dinner that night, and for as many Saturday nights as I needed.

Sometimes I wondered if Aunt Evelyn didn’t have psychic powers, especially after my mother’s stroke. Aunt Evelyn and I arrived at the hospital at the same time, and we entered into my mother’s room hand in hand. But, when the doctor walked in with my mother’s chart, Aunt Evelyn’s expression revealed the seriousness of my mother’s condition before the doctor spoke a word.

Two days later, Aunt Evelyn called me at midnight and told me to meet her at the hospital. We snuck into my mother’s room and each took one of her hands, while she took her last few breaths.

When Aunt Evelyn told me she had Alzheimer’s several years later, she said her life was like reading the newspaper with holes in it. Details got lost first, then whole sentences disappeared. She was afraid that soon enough, the only thing left from her story would be an image. Richard stopped visiting because “it was too hard to see her that way.” So, I spent most evenings with her those last few months. After a while, she couldn’t remember my name, but she still smiled and patted my hand every time I sat down next to her.

When she died, her lawyer sent me a thick envelope. Inside was Aunt Evelyn’s passport, a large amount of cash, and a piece of stationary from Carnival Cruises upon which she wrote one sentence.

Gather the facts, trust your gut, and take a cruise.

I used the money for a ticket on a Norwegian Cruise. I didn’t meet a Brit from out east, but I read about every stop before we docked, in honor of Aunt Evelyn. And, once, I took a wrong turn on the third floor of the cruise ship and ran into a man whose wife was choking on a peppermint. I performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved her life.

My name and picture showed up on the front page of the cruise ship’s Daily Reporter.


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5 responses to “The Aunt Evelyn Report

  1. This was great fun! Aunt Evelyn seems very real!

  2. You amaze me every time. This is one of my favorites.

  3. I am amazed at what you come up with “on demand.” You’re my role model. 🙂

  4. Thanks @celiacinthecity and @Linda!

    And, Linda,
    I wish I could translate that “on demand” writing skill to my WIP. Wed’s word is a breeze compared to rewrites! 🙂

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