My Great Aunt Dora and Me… After Eighty

Dora Espy Wilson, c. 1951

My Great Aunt Dora did two notable things once she reached eighty.  She went on her first-ever roller coaster ride and she took the S. S. Lurline to Hawaii.  I thought about that yesterday when I was doing something for the first time ever at the age of almost eighty-four.  Not so glamorous or exciting — but a first, never-the-less: I’m helping Nyel clean out our garage.

So far in my lifetime, garages have been the bailiwick of the men of the family — my father and my husbands, mostly.  When I did have a small cottage with garage to myself, it contained the water heater and, sometimes, my car.  There definitely was not a work bench or a wall of tools or stacks of lumber that “might come in handy.”  There could have been shelves for storage but I’m not sure.

Our garage serves many purposes.  It almost always houses the car; it shelters the cannon in winter; its shelves and corners and rafters all store things we just can’t get rid of; and it is the repository of many unfinished projects of Nyel’s.  Like a dozen or so duck decoys waiting to be painted…  Not that I don’t have unfinished projects.  Mine just happen to be in my computer.

Don’t look up!

When things get out of hand and it becomes doubtful that the car can find adequate space, Nyel goes on a cleaning spree.  Or he used to.  Now, he has to put up with me to do the lifting, shoving, climbing, pulling — all requirements of clean-out.  Plus, he has to put up with my  “why” questions.  Like “why do we need four large boxes of jelly glasses and rings?”    And my comments: “I’m certainly not going to be making jams or jellies and in forty years I haven’t seen you do any of that either.”  Well, he did make plum jam.  Once.  Twenty years or so ago.

Invariably we get into the saving versus hoarding discussion.  We both are big on saving for sentimental or historical reasons.  There is no question about keeping the box labeled “Horseshoes, Old” that dates back to the days when everyone in my mother’s family had his or her own horse.  Plus there were the work horses on my grandfather’s dairy farm which probably accounts for the box marked “Horse Collar.”


But there are things that are beginning to call less adamantly and, perhaps, are beginning to moulder and rot.  Old doll parts and doll clothes from my mother’s generation.  Two (count ’em, two) rusted old griddles that weigh a ton.  “But our stove has a a griddle…” said I..  “You never know when you’ll have a big crowd in for pancakes…” said he.  And so it goes and will probably continue on throughout the winter.

And what about things like jars of kitty litter for using in the event of spills during an oil change?  Like that’s going to happen soon…  Or how about the work bench?  Will we ever find it under all that “stuff?”  The scary part is that Nyel knows where everything is and why it’s there and how long he’s had it and what he’ll use it for.  YIKES!

Work Bench!

I never did ask Aunt Dora if she enjoyed her after-eighty-escapades. I’m pretty sure she would have been enthusiastic about both of them.  I’m not so sure about this after-eighty adventure of my own.  Ask me a year from now.




One Response to “My Great Aunt Dora and Me… After Eighty”

  1. Valerie Harrison says:

    I remember 64 years ago going to my grandparents bon voyage party on the Lurline in a limousine. They were going to Hawaii also.

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