Uncle Albert and Aunt Jewel were dull as mud. All Uncle Albert ever said was “Don’t mess with that!” or “That’ll fall on you.” Normally, Aunt Jewell only coughed and told us to go play outside, but some reason I once spent an endless afternoon with her when she made a point to converse with me. I was impressed when she’d told me an acronym for spelling the word contents. “Coons ought not to eat nuts so soon.” Then she laughed, saying coons didn’t eat nuts, squirrels did. The joke was wasted on me, but I was surprised she had the wit to think something was funny. I’d never heard her laugh before. Her incessant smoking made her rattly laugh sound like nails scratching on tin, She also told me that if you hit the bottom when you were falling in a dream, you’d die, as well no matter how long a dream seemed to last, it only took one second to dream it.
I knew Aunt Jewel had split Uncle Albert and his first wife up. I studied this dumpy, gray -haired, old lady who coughed every breath wondering how he could have possibly have chosen her over anybody else. She whined, stared off in the distance, and never had anything interesting to say. Her only vaguely entertaining attribute was that she’d strung Crackerjack prizes together on a leather strip which she sometimes allowed me to play with as long as I sat on the floor in front of her, though she was oblivious to all my hints that I really needed them.
That pretty much wrapped up my relationship with Aunt Jewel, except the time she fell out the back door. Uncle Albert offered her a cigarette. She cried saying, ” I want a smoke so bad but I’m too sore to cough.” That was the first time I’d seen an adult cry.