Meet my Ms Moxie

by Elouise

I was only 8 or 9 years old when Auntie Rose Payne waltzed into my life. Well sort of. Even though she was very short, Auntie Rose dominated everything when she entered a room. She had a nonstop smile and sparkling eyes. She also delivered, unrequested, nonstop cheery comments, spoke loudly and often, and didn’t seem to care what people thought about her.

From my perspective, this was astonishing. At first I could scarcely understand a word she said. Worse, I couldn’t help sneaking frequent peeks at her lame leg that carried her along in huge lurches. One of her shoes had super-thick soles. But even that didn’t give her a level, evenly matched, pain-free stride.

I still see her walking ahead of me, swinging along in her off-beat gait. Her overloaded purse hangs from the crook of her right arm, a large Bible clutched tightly in her other arm. She swings along unevenly, rising and falling as her body ascends and descends with a jolt. Strange-looking orthopedic shoes help a bit, but don’t resolve her gait.

Never once did I hear Auntie Rose complain or see her downcast. That wasn’t her style. She preferred upbeat and onward Christian soldiers! In my presence she never stopped smiling, and she never stopped calling me ‘Love,’ even though she also knew and called me by my first name.

Auntie Rose was a polio survivor, an immigrant from Australia, and a visiting home nurse. She was bright, savvy and adventuresome. Unafraid of anyone or anything. When she entered a room she commanded attention. Especially if she spotted or even heard about anything that was out-of-order in our behavior.

Auntie Rose and my mother hit it off from the beginning. They bonded. Both lived with the crippling effects of polio, as did my sister Diane. Both were incorrigible extroverts. And Auntie Rose had a way of making everything fun or looking on the bright side even when it seemed bleak.

About ten years after D and I married, we visited Savannah and happened to run into Auntie Rose. She was just leaving church on a Sunday morning. She hadn’t changed a bit; she’d just grown a bit older. We stood there chatting about our wedding and what we were now doing in our lives.

As we moved on, Auntie Rose stopped several lively young boys who’d just come out of Sunday School. She smiled at them cheerfully, called them “Love,” and gave them a proper refresher on how to walk safely on public property!

I’d like to think some of Auntie Rose’s moxie rubbed off on me. Not just as the adult I am today, but as the little girl I was yesterday. Even though it sometimes got me into trouble.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 July 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Moxie