Friday, March 24, 2006

Plain and Fancy

The tale of two sisters. One was plain, wore very little make up, very little jewelry, dark colored clothing, had a plain hairstyle (and natural color), was a stay-at-home mom, devoted herself to her home and family, and was a very scheduled person. The other was flamboyant, wore lots of make up, lots of jewelry, bright, colorful clothes, always had the latest hairstyle, and a different hair color, worked outside the home (but was also very devoted to her family.)

Here are the sisters as young teenagers.....

The plain sister stayed near the town where she grew up, the other sister moved away to California. They each had one child, a daughter.

I am the daughter of the plain sister but my heart always belonged to the flamboyant sister, my Aunt Dotti. She was the person I looked up to most, while growing up. I wanted to be just like her. To me, she had a glamorous life....she lived in California! She got to see movie stars just walking around in everyday life. She got to wear beautiful clothes and go out to dinner in fancy restaurants. She was idolized by me (shown below at about age 15), a skinny (yes, in those days!), shy, girl in a Midwestern town.

When Aunt Dotti came back for a visit, usually about once a year, it was wonderful and it was terrible, too. My mother always had my aunt give me a permanent and I hated that part, but it was a little sacrifice I was willing to make to spend even more time with Aunt Dotti.

She was always so full of life....wonderful stories, jokes, and always the clothes. I thought it was the best thing in the world to help Aunt Dotti unpack because then I could discover all the beautiful goodies she brought back to my little corner of the world. My mom and I did most of our shopping at JC Penny's so you can see how I would be impressed by anything vaguely exotic or unusual!!

The photo below is one of my favorites of Aunt Dotti even though it is rather subdued. She looks so happy and vivacious.....

When I became a teenager, it was even better! She actually let me wear some of her things to school. Oh, I thought I was Hot Stuff on those days. I was wearing "California" clothes! My mother would just be a basket case worrying that I would spill something, or tear something, or otherwise mess up whatever Aunt Dotti gave me to wear....but Aunt Dotti just didn't seem to worry one little bit. She calmly turned over her beautiful sweaters, and coats, and even some jewelry for me to wear. She made me feel special. And I don't think I ever spoiled any of the clothes.

The first time I saw the movie "Auntie Mame" starring Roz Russell, I thought the main character was so much like my Aunt Dotti. Dotti wasn't quite as kookie as Mame but she was every bit as flamboyant, at least in my eyes. I still keep an old paperback copy of "Auntie Mame" in my night stand because it reminds me of my own real life version.

When my mother died, I moved to California to be near Aunt Dotti. She took me into her family and became like a second mother to me. We spent many hours sitting around her dining room table talking and laughing. By then I was a grown woman and we could talk as two adults. I'm not sure if she ever truly knew how very special she was to me. I tried often to tell her, and to show her in different ways but I don't know if she actually knew the depth of my love for her.

She made a lasting impression on a shy, little girl....and I'm sure there are many other people out there who were touched by her. I could tell you so many stories about Aunt Dotti but I'll save those for another time.

And, please, don't misunderstand this entry....I loved my mother very much. She, too, was a wonderful person but in a much quieter way. I miss "both" my mothers and think of them often.


  1. I think you were lucky to have had two different sorts of "moms" to love. :-)

  2. Anonymous2:36 PM

    You made our day! Love,Jenn and M.A.

  3. This is a beautiful post about a beautiful family. It is inspiring that the positive connections we make with family and friends really help shape who we become. Your Aunt and Your Mother sound like wonderful people to be shaped by. I am sure that is why you are such a delight!!

  4. I loved reading this entry. What a sweet, touching story. Thank you for sharing.


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