My Aunt Ann

by John Cardinal, August, 1998

My cousin Carol favors her mother, and when I see her I think about my Aunt Ann. I think about the time my mother put some snacks in a brown grocery bag, put me in our little red wagon with the bag on my lap, and pulled me two miles to my Aunt Ann's house on Beechwood Ave. My Aunt Ann had a big smile and a big laugh, and she let me drive the big red electric car they had in their cellar. My Aunt Ann was a great Aunt Ann.

I remember a different visit when I found out her middle name was Winifred. I thought that was the funniest name I had ever heard, and she thought it was pretty funny, too. We made up some other silly names and she made me laugh so hard I nearly choked on the potato chip and adult dip I had in my mouth.

We picked up my father at work that day because my mother had used the car to take us to my Aunt's house. When my Dad got in the car, my Mom slid over, but she let me stay in the front seat. I tried to make Dad laugh by telling him about Aunt Ann's middle name, but he already knew it. He thought it was funny, but it didn't make him laugh.

My Aunt visited our house many, many times. I saw her in many different places. Still, I really only remember her in her kitchen and at Cape Cod. She had a big piggy bank in that kitchen; Uncle Mario put his tip money in it every night, and they broke it in the summer to rent a cottage on the Cape. One year my mother said that someone "stole their vacation," but I was old enough to know that someone stole the money from the big piggy bank. They went to the Cape anyway, and we went to visit. I remember going out to play miniature golf and eat ice cream and I still like the Cape even now.

Ann Winifred (Cloherty) Labadini smoked Camel cigarettes. That's the only bad thing I remember about her. She smoked cigarettes and they killed her. They killed her twenty years ago when she was still a young woman and now they are trying to choke my mother.

Copyright © 1998 by John Cardinal. All rights reserved.

My mother, Ann's sister, Mary M. (Cloherty) Cardinal, started smoking when she was 16 and quit when she was 56. More than 10 years later, in 1995, she was diagnosed with emphysema. She died in 2001 from complications associated with the disease. Don't smoke.