The musty barn of the auction house beckoned us every Friday or Saturday night, sometimes both. It was an inexpensive way for our family to spend time together over the weekend. My Uncle Kenny and Aunt Helen owned the place which made it even more fun. Aunt Helen loved children. She didn’t have any of her own, so she delighted in spoiling us at every opportunity!
When my parents weren’t looking she smuggled a few free bags of popcorn under her snack counter, often slipping me underneath to reach inside the freezing cold ice chest. There, I stuck my hand down into the cold ice water to grab hold of my favorite frosty liquid “pop.” To the right side of her booth were rows of candy. “Chuckles,” “Slow Pokes”, “M & M’s”, and other mouth-watering treats all called out my name from rows beyond my reach .
Together, we sat on chipped, painted wooden benches where my father bid on everything from pots and pans for my mom, to “Surprise Boxes” for us kids. Inside, we’d dig deep to discover naked dolls with fuzzy heads, rusty-red trucks, a few silver toy cowboy guns, and perhaps a box of jacks or a suede bag of marbles. All were treasures bought by our father to take home at the end of the night for us to share.
By far, the best part of the evening was the time we spent visiting Aunt Helen. She was one of my ‘Special” aunts who became a first “hero” as mentioned in one of my earlier posts. She lived a simple life. She didn’t have much money, lived in an old shack of a house, and loved her mongrel dog that became a rescued pet long before it was ever popular to do so. Whenever I saw her, she always seemed happy. She most enjoyed visits from her nieces and nephews. We were like little gems and jewels to her imaginary crown; the children she never had, those that she doted on and loved without condition.
Sometime while she still managed the snack bar of her auction house she, too, was diagnosed with Freidreich’s Ataxia. Aunt Helen’s smile was as big as a full shining moon. That’s what I remember most. Together with her blonde hair and blue eyes, it lit up the twilight of the auction house whenever we walked in. Another strong sister of my father, she would not allow sympathy, but lived life as if nothing had changed. She worked till closing time without a complaint upon her feet. Standing behind the counter, she visited with customers making each feel as if they were her only one. She had a special laugh, hearty yet sweet, with a tone I shall never forget.
Whenever I look at shining moon, I think of her………..