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  • Beatrice wasn’t Kathy’s favorite aunt, not by any stretch of the imagination. That honor belonged to her sister, Catherine. Aunt Catherine (actually a Great Aunt) was a down-to-earth, woman of the world, very knowledgeable, very people-wise, and very savvy. As I met each of Kathy’s family, when we were first dating, by the time I got to meet Aunt Catherine, my first thought was “finally! Here’s one I actually like!” There would eventually be others I liked, but Catherine was the best of the bunch.

    I'll never forget the time, at a family funeral, where I first met Eugene. We were all sitting at the same table, at the wake, and Eugene started pumping me with all kinds of questions about where I worked, how much I made, what I did, and on, and on, and on. Aunt Catherine just shook her head, reached across the table to me, and said, "Don't say a word to him. He's crazy. He'll keep asking you those questions all day, if you talk to him. Eugene, leave him alone!" I would soon learn that she was not exaggerating!

    Her sister, Aunt Beatrice, was an old-school Catholic Nun. She always struck me as being full of judgements and holy nonsense (or would that be “nunsense”?) I’d also had an aunt who was a Catholic nun, but she was always very cool. She was in a much more progressive order, and she was a very progressive thinker, while also being very devout. I wasn’t sure just how devout Aunt Beatrice was – she just seemed to me to be full of herself, most of the time, as best I could reckon. Just wearing a nun’s habit does not make one holy, that lesson I learned well coming up in the Catholic school system like I did. I had nuns for teachers all through elementary school, and some of them were real trips.
  • Aunt Catherine, who had worked for a living most of her life, and had been smart with her money, but never married, always took good care of her sister Beatrice. She also took good care of the convent Beatrice was in, as well. When Catherine got sick, and was hospitalized and being treated for her condition, it threw Beatrice’s world into a real tizzy. She was so used to Catherine just handling so many things for her, she struggled once Catherine wasn’t able to do all the things she normally did for her.

    We visited Catherine regularly when she got sick, helping to get her to her treatments and what-not. At one point, as we were visiting her, in the hospital I believe it was, Aunt Beatrice pulled Kathy aside as we were getting ready to leave. Very secretively, she asked Kathy if she could help to find her some serenity. Kathy just looked at her, incomprehendingly, shocked that her aunt the nun would be asking her for help finding serenity! Shouldn’t nuns, of all people, know how to find serenity? In the programs, many meetings ended with the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That's the only serenity we were really familiar with.

    Kathy was still at a complete loss as to what to tell her Aunt Beatrice, until Beatrice finally, embarrassed and frustrated, showed her an empty box of Serenity – the brand name of an adult-style diaper. She needed serenity for a little bladder problem she had! This was apparently the type of thing that Aunt Catherine would always handle for her.

    She probably could have used the other kind of serenity, as well, but we couldn't help her with that. But, we did make a stop at the store to pick up a pack of Serenity for her.
    Photos by Alberto Restifo and Ales Krivac, respectively, courtesy of
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