Gladys

The smell of cheap cigarettes floods my senses
She floats into the room, on cloud nine
On one arm, another rich playboy
On the other, a handsome rogue –
She believes their lies, make-up creased and wrinkled,
Oblivious to her hideousness,
she milks them for every dime

Tall tales escape her red lips –
charm oozing, staining her faux mink coat
Draped across his arm, it’s difficult to believe
she’d graduated top of her class and was a concert pianist
Her fingers, now yellowed with chipped nail polish
grasp a tumbler – whiskey on the rocks
her other hand idly caresses a mole on her throat

The playboy lights her cigarette,
the rogue ogles her jewelry, calculating
Willfully ignoring their practiced seduction
She pretends it is as it was – the ghosts of Ray and Chuck –
brothers, partners – inseparable since birth,
reunited at the gates of Hell – she smiles wistfully
caught up in a past memory, beautiful yet aggravating

She catches my eye, but pretends not to see me
Though her face turned pale, her fingers restless
Nervous, she excitedly regales her past adventures
with renewed passion, determined to be the center of attention
all duties, responsibilities, maternal instincts drowning
in booze and a faulty self image
and I become another obstacle, now faceless

As I turn to walk away, I watch as she slips her hand
into the playboy’s pocket and gracefully tucks the money
under her collar as she adjusts the fur
She flinches when the rogue grasps her thigh,
but recovers her composure and gulps the rest of her whiskey
The familiar trill of her laughter echoes
in my mind and throughout eternity

© Frohmberg 2005, 2016


221529_10151033016679806_552911427_oThe original poem “A Free Spirit” was written when I was in high school. This version was written ten years ago and is loosely based on what I think my great-great Aunt Gladys’s “end of life” could’ve been, as if I was there to observe it. A bit morbid and quite tragic, but full of adventures… which is exactly how everyone I know described her. She was a spitfire – a free spirit – who apparently, with her brothers Raymond and Charles, “made and lost fortunes in the oil boom” of the early 20th century. Extremely talented, but lacking the stick-to-itiveness of her older sister (my great-grandmother), she flitted around the country, living “high on the hog” and never really settled down or planned responsibly for her golden years. My grandparents speculated that she died alone, an alcoholic, in squalor in Los Angeles sometime in the 1970s.

The Evie mentioned on the photo is my grandmother. “Charley” could be her brother (also called Chuck) or Evie’s sister, Charlene. I’m not sure.

I’ve been interested in genealogy and “finding my roots” since Middle School, when I started going through my grandfather’s ancestry research. Recently, I’ve started a blog about all the family history: The Stories of My Family. I hope you check it out, enjoy the stories, and are inspired to do a little digging into your own family!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. clcouch123 says:

    The word “speculated” hooked me while reading. For those who know their relatives, it might seem odd not to know. My parents only had one sibling (each) from whom they were alienated. Hence we know little about our extended families and have to poke around and guess. I can understand your interest in piecing it all together. I wonder how hard it would be to be in this great-great-aunt’s company? I’m sure I’d find living with some of the relatives I’ve heard of to be a challenge. Good luck as you search out your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Call me Cordelia says:

      When I talked with her nieces and grand-nieces, they told me she was exciting but abrasive. Their husbands and my father (her grand nephews) thought she was a mooch. Those that knew her didn’t really want to be around her. Sad, really.

      Like

  2. Fabulous…wonderful imagery

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Call me Cordelia says:

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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