Colorful Relatives

Did you ever know people who were so unusual they didn’t fit in any group?  We’re talking about individualists…conundrum people…square pegs in round holes.

My great-aunt Marie was one of those.  For starters, she lived in a funeral home.  Oh, but Aunt Marie was anything but morbid.  She simply was a widow who needed a place to live, so she got a job working for a mortician.

Once, Aunt Marie took us on a tour of the funeral home when no one else was there.  Well, no one but Steinie.  He was a German immigrant who had died several years earlier and had been embalmed.  After no one came to claim Steinie, the mortician realized the little man had become petrified.  He put the man in a casket with a glass top and seal, and Steinie became a delight for morbid curiosity seekers.  I guess morticians have a sense of humor, too.  But I digress.

At family reunions, we children could count on Aunt Marie to entertain people by singing a special song.  Once she dressed in a child’s cowboy hat, toy gun and holster, and sang, I Didn’t Know the Gun Was Loaded.  Fortunately, that was the era before political correctness was invented.  Aunt Marie was indeed colorful.

And then there is a relative of ours, Stewie the mountain man (not his real name). Like the character Rancid Crabtree in writer Patrick McManus’ books, Stewie feels that taking a bath will wash away his protective crust and invite infection.  When people visit, this one-of-a-kind relative greets them with soot-coated face, courtesy of a dilapidated coal furnace which belches smoke and debris all over his house.  He owns a humongous cat that looks part mountain lion and part alley cat.  If you happen to stand beside the monster feline when he perches on the arm of the grimy sofa–and you don’t pet him–he reaches out and bites you.  Stewie doesn’t get a lot of company.

How boring life would be without these fun relatives.  Who are yours?

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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