Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My niece, Christine Tippett Ellis, wrote this week's blog in response to Crazy Aunts from last week. I read it, then rummaged old albums. I searched for photos of memories I'd forgotten but she, a gifted writer, recaptured in painful detail. I reluctantly title this


My very first hitchhiking experience! I was only 5, but I was ready for adventure! My cousin Katy and I stood there beside the road, waiting for the car to appear. When we saw it turn the corner, we stuck out our thumbs as my Aunt Kathy had instructed us.

The car slowed and the window rolled down. “You girls need a ride?” the older gentleman inquired. We nodded excitedly. “Well, get in.” We smiled and eagerly climbed into the backseat of my granddaddy’s Buick. We soon found out our destination: the hearing aid store. It was time for grandma to trade in for a new model. We didn’t care about the destination, though; as usual, Aunt Kathy had made something exciting out of an everyday event.

That’s the way it is with my Aunt Kathy. Even the most mundane duties seem thrilling at her house. Getting a new refrigerator meant making a giant phone booth to decorate. We even installed Styrofoam cups attached with string that ran the down the hall to my cousin Kent’s room. Another day, we picked “tommy-toes” in Aunt Kathy’s garden; I didn’t even like to eat tomatoes, but she somehow convinced me they were delicious, because we picked them ourselves.

I remember getting into a heated argument with my friends in the first grade because I insisted that my Aunt Kathy invented “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” She had taught it to me long before those kids at school ever heard of it, I was sure. If it was fun, my Aunt Kathy started it.

Aunt Kathy was on our level. When my sister bragged in her best “nanna-nanna-boo-boo” taunt that her apple slices were peeled, while mine still had the skins on them, Aunt Kathy didn’t lecture her on her manners or being kind to her family. She scrunched up her face and “nanna-boo-booed” her right back, “Hers has more vit-a-mins!” She ended with a stuck-out tongue and a hip shake. Aunt Kathy knew how to put you in your place!

My Aunt Kathy wore the coolest blue eyeshadow. And I’ve never seen someone with so many shades of nail polish. When she brought out her Caboodle on family vacation, we little girls would gather around, hoping for a touch of lipstick or a drop of perfume on our wrists. Aunt Kathy made us feel so pretty!

Wherever Aunt Kathy is, there is a party. She talks the loudest, laughs the most, and stays up the latest. On the Tippett family vacation, we cousins always crowded around the kitchen table into the wee hours of the morning for endless games of Taboo, Dutch Blitz, and Monopoly. That is, all of us cousins, and Aunt Kathy. While the other adults snored loudly in the bedrooms, we kids had to shush Aunt Kathy so she wouldn’t wake them up and get us into trouble!

Aunt Kathy adds music and harmony to her surroundings. I’ve never been around people that had as much fun harmonizing to “Happy Birthday” as hers. You learn quickly to pick your part and stay on it! And it is so fun to gather around the piano or accordion and sing along with her. My Aunt Kathy makes beautiful music!

Aunt Kathy also introduced me to great literature. I will never forget reading Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” for the first time in 11th grade and realizing, “I know this story! Aunt Kathy told me this while swimming in the ocean when I was little!” I told my friends, “This is a good story! Just wait and see what happens!” Their looks said, “You’ve got to be kidding me” but I knew Aunt Kathy had clued me in to a good read. “Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” My Aunt Kathy is no dummy!

I can’t really capture the essence of Aunt Kathy for those who don’t know her…except…I do remember seeing “I Love Lucy” for the first time when I was younger and thinking, “Hmmm, that lady reminds me of someone I know…except she’s a little calmer.”

I wish everybody had an Aunt Kathy! She’s the best.

Christine Tippett Ellis

Kathy's inevitable last word:

When Christine sent this piece, I honestly remembered very few of the incidents she mentioned. While gathering the photos, I found this one last gem... a moment long ago that SHE may not remember.

Lovely family dinner out, but notice Christine (bottom left of group, enlarged in photo below.)

I wonder who the next generation's crazy aunt will be. Hm-mmmm... "Christine, don't cross your eyes! They'll get stuck that way."

Love and laughter,
Aunt Kathy

Meet Christine, Robbie & Claire (missionaries in Honduras):


  1. It is often said that acorns don't fall far from the family tree. Very enlighting, and an enjoyable story

  2. Oh, wow, Kathy--if you are being compared with Lucy, you have the very funniest mentor, sans any inhibition whatsoever.

  3. Great post, Christine and Kathy.....enjoyed it all! When your book comes out, can I have an autographed copy? Thanks!

  4. This is a crack-up! It's also proof that I'm genetically-predisposed to zaniness!! (See, kids, Nana started it!) Makes me glad I'm a part of this so very non-normal clan.
    BTW, Uncle Ricky, your Bubba get-up proves you are soooo blood-related! Nice try.