My father always called his sister Lillian, “Diamond Lil”. When I heard that as a child I pictured a queen dripping in diamonds from head to toe. My imagination played all sorts of sparkly scenarios through my head. Dad said she was coming for a visit and I really couldn’t wait to meet her!
When he pulled into the driveway after picking up “Diamond Lil” at the airport, my sister and I peered out the big picture window in the living room with great expectation. Slowly a large lady emerged from our 1950 Willys Jeep which, by the way, was hardly the vehicle you’d expect someone with the name of “Diamond Lil” to arrive in. I have to say we were sorely disappointed in what we saw! She looked very ordinary and not at all like we thought a “Diamond Lil” should look. She was rather round in the middle with pink cheeks and short grey hair. During her visit with us I found out those pink cheeks actually turned bright red when she laughed and we ended up laughing a lot with Aunt Lil. Of all the aunts we had met to date, she was without a doubt the most fun. We spent numerous hours with her thoroughly enjoying her company.
I noticed she had an impressive collection of rings. She carefully chose different ones to wear each day. Most of these were covered in large clear stones that sparkled when the light hit them. She revealed to us that this was why our dad called her “Diamond Lil”. Weighing the evidence, we felt it quite appropriate. Sometimes she would even let me wear one of her rings for a while and I felt very special knowing that she trusted me with such a treasure. Years later she told us they were all costume jewelry but that still doesn’t dampen my memory of those awesome jewels.
When company came to visit it was traditional for Mom to fix big meals using her best china dishes with the pink flowers around the edge. This occasion was no exception. She’d been cooking all afternoon and the table was beautifully set with great care and attention. She called us to help place the food on the table and we grudgingly stopped playing and went to work. I remember I was eyeing the mashed potatoes and gravy I had just set down when I heard a fluttering of wings. I turned to see Pretty Boy the parakeet coming in for a landing. He made a direct hit in the scoop neck of the china gravy boat! The bird was squawking and fluttering and mom was yelling and the rest of us were hysterical with laughter—-especially Aunt Lil. Pretty Boy flew off splattering gravy around the room as he went. Mother was totally mortified. She reached for the gravy boat to throw out its contents but Aunt Lil quickly interceded. Being a lover of food and no perfectionist, Lil saved the day telling mom, “There’s nothing in the world wrong with that gravy. Let’s sit down and eat.” Mom protested but Lil insisted and she and my dad exchanged a wink.
That was one of our favorite stories to reminisce about when we got together years later, and it still brings a smile to my face. Aunt Lil has long since passed from this life but she left a sweet legacy of fun and laughter I treasure to this day.