When I was quite young my parents, my sister and I lived behind the large brick house.  My Aunt Maude, my Uncle John and their children, Ronny and Linda, occupied the large, brick house my Grandfather built.

What I remember most is how cluttered the house was all the time. Seeing it imprinted on my young mind. The small shack my family lived in was usually neat because there wasn’t any room for clutter.

After a few years with her children grown, my aunt and uncle sold the house to another aunt and uncle. So, Aunt Maude began buying houses. She would take dilapidated houses, live in them for a couple of years while she fixed them up, and then sell them. In all she bought and sold 21 houses, none of them cluttered.

Uncle John was a patient man and went along with Aunt Maude as they moved from house to house.  My aunt, one of eight children, grew up in the Great Depression era and the World War II deprivation.

Aunt Maude was very creative and if she had the educational opportunity, would have been a terrific novelist. She always had tales she made up, mostly untrue. Most of her sisters couldn’t understand why she told such whoppers and looked down on her. It didn’t seem to bother her, or if it did, she ignored them.

In her dotage, she began baking and selling her pastries in a small shop. When she sold the last house and moved to senior housing after Uncle John’s demise, she continued baking and selling her cookies and cakes to neighbors in the apartment building.

We became closer as her health deteriorated and she in Ohio and I in Florida spoke often by telephone.

She sent me copies of her favorite cookie recipes and I still have them in my recipe box.  As her final days came closer and closer, I relished listening to her stories and family tales, knowing many of them were fiction, but still the spark she always had for outrageously made up stories remained.

I miss you Aunt Maude.  You were one of a kind!