When I was a kid, I knew perfectly well who Aunt Veda and Aunt Vera were: My dad's older sisters. The problem was trying to figure out which one of those V names belonged to whom? Because it was too confusing to me as a kid, I simply didn't call them by name! In fact, I don't think I talked to them at all! Instead, I concentrated on my younger cousins who were often as not around - since at least I could find someone around who's name wasn't quite so challenging. (Albeit certainly NOT ordinary! LOL)
Aunt Veda, Aunt Helen and Aunt Vera. Those were dad's sisters. All older than he. All with dark hair and eyes - except for Aunt Vera who had blue eyes. If her hair was dark, I couldn't tell you as I only remember her hair being gray. I'm sure she wasn't BORN with gray hair, but by the time I came along, it was! Although neither of her sisters nor my dad would develop gray hair until they were in their late 70s and into their 80s. Aunt Vera's was and her eyes very blue. (I suspect I'm following dad's trend, as I still have a lot of dark hair myself - with the very blue eyes of Aunt Vera).
Each one of the sisters had a different personality. Aunt Vera was rather jolly and laughed a lot. Aunt Helen was her opposite and always seemed sad. I suppose, in looking back, she had much to be sad about, as her husband was an alcoholic and I suspect abusive and one of her kids had juvenile diabetes. It would kill my cousin while she was still young and my Aunt Helen never really got over that or the death of her third husband.
Meanwhile, Aunt Veda was tiny. She was slightly built, elegant and rather quiet. She was the one who would write in local history books that the family played their heritage 'close to their vest.' She also was the one who seemed to keep the mysteries of our heritage as well as our ancestors, for she too only alluded to a possible heritage rather than come out and just say it. Her step mother, Aunt Ada, certainly had no trouble announcing - and loudly - that the family was Native American. But according to Aunt Veda, we were Welsh.
Well, probably somewhere in the melee of our ancestral genes, that was true. But certainly and hardly the SOLE heritage! LOL!
When i asked dad, he would grow rather terse and short tempered and simply tell me we were 'American,' and that's all anyone needs to know. Or he'd say something along the lines that we were 'whoever came down the pike.' (That would be the closest to the truth)
Meanwhile, Aunt Veda was quiet and spoke with a low, soft voice. I often would listen and wonder which sister might sound like my unknown grandmother. For surely, my grandmother's voice couldn't be the gravely, harsh voice of Aunt Ada! Surely my grandmother was soft spoken and lovely, as my Aunt Veda! Of course, I'll never know for a fact, but in Aunt Veda, I hoped I saw my grandmother. In my mind, I did.
While Aunt Veda might not make waves or be loud, she certainly kept a spotless house. In her house were antiques - likely from her husband's family. There were what my sister and I called old timey 'viewmasters.' They were made of wood and double photos would be placed on a holder in front of the lens. When we looked through, the twin photo - all in black and white - became a single photo. They were called stereoscope viewers, according to Aunt Veda who schooled us on matter. We'd spend endless hours looking at the photos. Now, I can't even remember the content, but at the time, it was so interesting!
The other thing about Aunt Veda was her utter love of Siamese cats! She had part of the back porch totally screened in and it was filled to the rim with chocolate point Siamese cats. I was terrified of the things because every time I walked past, the cats would howl, climb and claw at the screen. I felt like I was under attack. And it didn't help that my memory apparently was strong of an actual cat attack when I was small. I'd look up at that screen filled with cats and hear their caterwalling as I tried to walk as far from that part of the porch as possible. Aunt Veda once tried to assure me I was safe. I didn't believe a word of it.
She had an old Victorian house. It had a long, wrap around porch with a swing and various furniture of seats and tables. As I recall, everything was wicker. No matter where we were, us kids migrated to the living room to look at the stereoscope or outside to play on the porch. There was a huge living room with bowed glass in the windows, an equally huge dining room no one used because if we ate anywhere, our clan always gathered in the kitchen no matter where we were: Dining room or not. Only people you'd want to impress would be seated in the dining room, for heaven's sake! Oh no! Family should be and would always be cozily seated in the kitchen at the very back of every house I knew - unless there simply was no more room in the kitchen because it was a special holiday and all the tables were filled with cooking and food and everything that went with that chore.
I didn't know Aunt Veda well. In fact, I didn't know any of dad's people very well. Aunt Helen was always crying or complaining about someone or something, it seemed. Aunt Vera was busy with her own brood. But once I grew up, Aunt Veda was the one who made sure to make a pathway to my life. She'd send simple gifts to my kids, stop by with Uncle Harold and ask us to go out with them or meet them somewhere. She also was the one who would send Christmas cards and always send me some saying, like 'stop and smell the flowers,' or such.
Aunt Veda was found dead one day by her daughter, Sandra, a few years before my dad died. She was the last of his surviving siblings. Like mom, he outlived all his aunts, uncles, brother and sisters and the loss of his mother, dad, grandmother and uncle who had raised him. All were gone. It was just him and mom and us....and soon it would just be us.
What do I wish now? That I'd also made more pathways to my dad's people and asked more questions. I doubt I'd have gotten a straight answer from Aunt Veda as far as our heritage, but perhaps....what I do know is that now it's too late. But I do have my memories and photos - such as the photo posted today of Aunt Veda when she was very young. It was taken in Logansport, which is where the Cox and Taylor clans were located. Did they pay for her beautiful photo to be taken? I'll never know.
What I do know is that Aunt Veda left me with the impression of gentleness and softness.....a personality much like my dad's.