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Aunt Rindy

DID you ever have an Aunt Rindy? I did. She lived alone in a plain white farmhouse next to mine. And her appearance was as unpretentious as the house itself. I don't remember seeing her without a spotless white apron that protected her long gingham dress. Her hair, as white as the apron, was firmly pulled back, leaving her face looking like an unframed picture. She seldom smiled. Occasionally a light would shine from eyes partially hidden by small, unrimmed glasses. When I needed an audience to listen to an important event, real or imaginary, I would run happily to Aunt Rindy's. There was always the greatest respect for my arrival. I wasn't just another little girl with a big imagination. It seemed that she wanted me to be there.

Long before comic books were in great supply, the Sunday funnies were something to anticipate. Imagine my joy when making a visit to find that a friend in the city had sent Aunt Rindy a big roll of funny papers! I climbed into a big Morris chair and pored over the bright colored pictures with a serious pretense of reading them. When Aunt Rindy said, ``My! You read so fast!'' I replied, ``Yes, I've read them all.''

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Did Aunt Rindy say, ``How could you? You haven't even been to school.'' Not she! She was too wise for that. She knew a child has dignity.

When I stayed at suppertime, she realized that I had come to eat with her. No word was spoken, but another place was quietly set at the table. Here was the feeling of utter contentment, as I felt the warmth of a wood-fire behind my back, and the loving hospitality of an understanding heart. Supper always included homemade bread, and sometimes fried salt pork that I ate reluctantly. Now and then the meal was interrupted when I would run to the pantry and drink from a tin dipper that hung by the faucet. The faucet was never turned off. Clear, cool water ran continuously from a spring on the hillside.

Next to the kitchen was a side bedroom. One day Aunt Rindy went into that little room alone. Later on that evening someone said that she wouldn't be out again for our usual visit. Her love had instilled in me a quiet confidence -- my child-heart felt no loss or sorrow. Wherever I might go there would always be the gentle, understanding heart, saying,

``Of course you can! Of course you do!''

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