More About Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ernie by
(88 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

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“Our front entrance — The vine you see over the door and around the side is a very beautiful lavender wisteria vine.” (Note on back of photo in Aunt Blanche’s handwriting)

Because, really, how many middle-aged couples would be willing to take in a small child and turn their comfortable lifestyle on its head with bottles and baby food and diapers and naps.

I was going to pass on this prompt as I’d already written about my aunt and uncle – see my story in the Unforgettable Person prompt — but my memory is pulling me to write a little more about them. I can picture them so clearly, even feel them, close to the surface. Or maybe it’s because our dog, Charlie, is really sick and I’m just feeling raw.

I’ve written about how I was taken in by Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ernie for the first two to three years of my life while my parentage was being reconfigured. How, over years of not being discussed openly, “it” all became a big, fat secret. How secrets have a way of festering like wounds, and this one did. But that’s all ancient history at this point, and I’m over it.

I think I just want to express my evermore affection for these dear people who even gardened with love, albeit half-lit most of the time. Because, really, how many middle-aged couples would be willing to take in a small child and turn their comfortable lifestyle on its head with bottles and baby food and diapers and naps. But, because I can still feel it, I know they must have fallen in love with me, too — a curly-haired moppet with deep brown eyes, a sweet disposition, and an eager-to-please nature.

How must they have felt when the day came that my mother, freshly remarried, picked me up and took me home with her. To my new home. They might have felt some relief, but something tells me they were more likely heartbroken.

I wish they were still here so, even now, I could soothe them like they must have soothed me when I arrived.

Here are some photos in their honor:


And here’s one of Charlie:

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. BB, What a loving pair Blanche and Ed were who saved a curly-headed little moppet.
    And sending good wishes to Charlie, please keep us posted!

  2. Marian says:

    I love the pictures, Barbara. They really tell the story of what your aunt and uncle gave to you. I can feel the rawness in your writing and send you hugs and hope the best for Charlie. It’s incredible how unselfish Blanche and Ernie were to take you in. My cousin Joe (who was like an uncle to me) did pass away this past week, and my mother misses him terribly (we all do). We were able to do a Zoom memorial service, which helped start the healing and generated both smiles and tears.

  3. Suzy says:

    Barb, this is such a lovely companion piece to the earlier one you wrote on the Unforgettable Person prompt. That was only the second piece you wrote for Retrospect, we didn’t even know you then, and it was a stunning introduction. I urge anyone reading this story who hasn’t read that one to follow the link and go back to it!

    Anyway, this is very touching, and the pictures are perfect. Sorry Blanche and Ernie are not around now to read it. And I’m hoping your adorable Charlie pulls through his illness – sending healing thoughts.

    • I’m afraid today is one of those days when such kind words bring tears to my eyes, Suzy. It makes me feel so good to think of you reading that original story and having such a positive reaction…I honestly wasn’t sure how it would go over. And thanks for those healing thoughts, my friend!

  4. John Shutkin says:

    What wonderful people they obviously were, Barb, and thank you for sharing this (obviously tough) story with us all. And, yes, I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for them when your mom came to take you home. Probably inevitable and, as they say, all for the good, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

  5. Took me a while to get through the story. Stopped short when you mentioned Charlie. Being a big time dog person the thought of one of those noble animals ailing distresses me (said as I look at an old photo of my favorite puppy boy Ciolo.) Anyway, what a beautiful story! Remember Mrs. Doubtfire? At the end, Williams, as her, answers a letter from a young viewer about what constitutes a family. As I remember his/her answer was tantamount to “wherever there is love”. As you found.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Hoping Charlie is doing well, Barb. My daughter is a vet and I understand how painful pets’ illness are and how deeply attached folks are to them. You were blessed to have your aunt and uncle care for you. While the parting must have been traumatic for all involved, they created a loving foundation for you. Your distinct memories may be few but they live on in your heart.

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    Barb, thank you for sharing more about your incredible Blanche and Ernie, who nurtured you and turned you into the nurturing soul you are. You’ve changed your photo. We see a new you. I send good, healing thoughts to your adorable Charlie. We all love our pets so much. And we love you. You are a much valued member of this community. Hope you feel it.

    • Now don’t go making me cry, Bets…you know how it is when you’re feeling vulnerable and someone says something kind. So just stop it! Just kidding…thank you, truly, for such sweet words! And that’s a new old me…I’d say about eight years old, but I felt like the laughing photo I had on there jarred with my current mood.

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