The Any Ways.


I was once told, “If you don’t have what you want, want what you have.” I can’t really remember who said it to me. I was a kid, and I think it was during a cold and frosty Easter Egg Hunt at Indian Lake. My basket had a little bit of nothing in it. No candy, and maybe one hard-boiled egg. It seemed like my brothers, sisters, and cousins were making out like the Rockefellers. I was probably belly-aching about my predicament.

Anyway, the saying. “Want what you have.” It might have been my Aunt Ellie who said it. I only saw Aunt Eleanor a few times a year. She married Uncle Ray, way before I was born, and they became a pair. Ray was my Dad’s older brother. Ray Jay. They always had a very cool house, and lots of boats.

Anyway, I’m not even sure if it was her or not. I liked her well enough, I suppose. But. She was always a little too much for me, Aunt Ellie. Her voice sort of boomed, and she wore bright red lipstick. And when we went outside, she always had on one of those see-through scratchy scarves. I guess they were nylon, or polyester. Or maybe chiffon. But I don’t think chiffon is scratchy.

Anyway, you could see her hair right through it. She was my oldest Aunt, I am pretty sure. And sometimes her hair was just a tinge blue, or purple. And you could really see it when she put on those scarves, especially when they had a little color to them. Sometimes, looking at her head reminded me of an Alien I saw on Mystery Theater. You could see the Alien brains right through its head.

Anyway, that isn’t the reason she was too much for me. That reason resided in the fact that she would always grab me, and squeeze me really hard, and then pinch my cheeks. And after that, a big fat smooch on my right cheek, always. Every time. And it always left a lipstick print, which sort of smelled like perfume. Or, it could have been her Estee Lauder perfume, that rubbed off from the hug. I’m not kidding you. She would squeeze the living daylights out of me.

And this. What are the living daylights, really? Where are they located, exactly? The other morning in the shower, that thought hit me. I searched up and down for my living daylights, and all I really saw were a couple of breasts that look more like a Picasso painting than anything. I never found my daylights, living or otherwise.

Anyway, Aunt Ellie, I think is where I was. Now that I look back, I am almost positive it was her. “If you don’t have what you want, want what you have.”

You see, she and Uncle Ray had two kids. A boy who I will not name, as he is still alive. And, a daughter named JoAnn. JoAnn Eleanor.

JoAnn was born with some sort of “intellectual disability.” But back in those days, everyone called it Mental Retardation. They cared for her for a long time, but I think at some point, they had to put her in a home. My Dad told me all of this made Uncle Ray and Aunt Ellie extremely sad. JoAnn’s life was very painful for them and gave them hardships and challenges. Back in the 1930s, it was a different world. She died long before I was born. JoAnn. Long before her parents died too. This, also, made them very sad.

So now I think I know why Aunt Ellie squeezed us kids so hard, and pinched our cheeks, and kissed us with the bright red lip-stamp.

You see. Her own daughter died.

I don’t think she had what she wanted. So instead, she wanted what she had.


“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus


“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”
― Neal A. Maxwell


“Every once in a while God allows you to stub your toe as a kind reminder to be grateful for the miraculous body attached to it.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway