(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her daughter, Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
My great aunt, Bettie Larkin Forster, had enormous ears. All the women on the Tucker side of the family did really, and some of us still do. Mother always said big ears are the sign of a generous person. Aunt Bet must have been magnanimous.
Everybody in Thomasville loved my Aunt Bet. She was the town’s postmaster for decades, as was her mother before her. She refused to allow anyone to call her a postmistress---said she was nobody’s mistress at all. After she retired from the Thomasville Post Office and was into her eighties, Aunt Bet had a fall and broke her hip. She was bedridden thereafter until her death at 94.
I didn’t know Aunt Bet until she was confined to bed, and, for reasons only a child can concoct, I was terrified of her. No one understood my fear, least of all my mother. I would beg not to be left alone in the room with this dear, sweet, horrifying woman who was my great aunt.
“Behave yourself,” Mother would admonish. “Go in the room and give Aunt Bet a hug.”
And I’d schlep myself up to her bedside, growing anxious and weak in the knees as the air around me filled with lavender dusting powder and crippleness.
Aunt Bet entertained herself from her bed by ordering from catalogs, not for any particular occasion, primarily just to pass the time. When the family suggested she had acquired a more-than-adequate amount of stuff, Aunt Bet would have her nurse, Heatha, hide the packages beneath her high spool bed. When she died, the family found enough wedding, anniversary, birthday, and Christmas gifts to last for years.
Aunt Bet died before I outgrew my fear of her. I wish I had known her better. When I got older, Mother told me my great aunt kept a running record of gentlemen who had come to visit her. I also learned Aunt Bet, in her mobile years, made divine muscadine wine---even on Sundays. And her exquisite wedding cakes were desired throughout southwest Alabama.
Yes, I wish I’d known her better. Like my mother did, I would have adored her.
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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