Bean, Bunny or Berniece...

As a child, I was often times subjected to staying with baby-sitters.  Most were either old great-aunts, friends of the family or other family members.  Some I liked staying with; most I did not.  HEY!  Who really "likes" to stay with a baby-sitter, after all?!  One of the old great-aunts that I stayed with at times, was in MY opinion...not so GREAT!

I never understood why some of the older cousins referred to Aunt Berniece as either Aunt Bean or Aunt Bunny.  Aunt Bean I could understand somewhat because of her stature, however, BUNNY?!  HA!  She was the furthest thing from a bunny I had even seen.  Years ago, when I taught second grade, I used to read "James and the Giant Peach" to my class (that was before they went and made a movie out of the book and ruined the excitement of the "written" story...).  There were two old aunts in the story; one fat and one skinny.  And they were NOT very kind to poor little James.  Well, Aunt Berniece sort of reminded me of the skinny one.

Again, I will say that "I do NOT know why those cousins called her AUNT BUNNY"!  Let me give you MY description of Aunt Berniece and then YOU can decide about the name, yourself.  She was tall and slim (perhaps the origin of "Aunt Bean"...), with a very stern demeanor (don't think I ever saw a smile cross her lips...).  She wore her jet black hair in a tight little bun atop her head; this hair style was NOT a credit to her profession as a hair dresser.  If those things were not enough to frighten a small child then let me expound a bit more.  She had piercing black eyes that were framed by pointy eyebrows of the same color.  Inside her home was her beauty shop.  I can remember that she was a no-nonsense sort of woman (aka:  not much fun...) who wore very sensible shoes (aka:  ugly ones...) and NO ONE ever dared convey displeasure with their hair upon leaving her shop (even if they went home an re-fixed it themselves...).  A pretty daunting picture, eh?!  So, upon pondering the question of WHY anyone would refer to her as "Aunt Bunny", I had only one explanation...DEAR SAINTLY AUNT KATHRYN!

Aunt Kathryn was another great-aunt, but she spoke in a very soft, sugary voice and had a wonderful "saintly" personality to go along with it.  I cannot remember Aunt Kathryn ever saying a harsh word to or about anyone.  Why just a few years ago, she even referred to me as "A Little Ray of Sunshine"!  I KNOW...I wouldn't even refer to myself in THAT manner.  So, I have concluded that perhaps dear sweet old Aunt Kathryn gave her that "pet" name.  However, if one could consider Aunt Berniece no-nonsense and daunting, her husband, Uncle Francis, was the EXACT OPPOSITE!

Uncle Francis was what he was called by EVERYONE...except ME!  He was my "Uncle Beep-Beep".  You see, I was that "late in life baby".  My only sibling, a sister, was 15 years older that me.  I am told that everyone wanted to play with me, like the new toy on the shelf.  Therefore, while Uncle Francis was bouncing me on his lap one day, I began to push his nose...and you've got it!  He would say, "Beep-Beep".  Thus, his "new" name (for just the two of us...) was born.  Now, Uncle Beep-Beep was a jolly man, who ALWAYS could be found sporting a smile.  He had a ruddy, Irish complexion and red hair (which Aunt Berniece kept dyed that color for the entirety of his life...). 

Uncle Beep-Beep was a WONDERFUL playmate!  Their property was large and filled with pecan trees.  It also had a barn that housed two Shetland ponies that he bought just for me (OK...he told me that, so I thought they were mine...)!  He let me name my ponies; their names were Herky and Becky.  I can recall Uncle Beep-Beep taking me outside to ride those ponies and feed them sugar cubes.  It was FUN playing with Beep-Beep!  However, EVERY time I would visit, after lunch, Aunt Berniece would banish Beep-Beep and I to the bedroom to take a nap (ugh...).  Oh how I HATED taking naps!  But Beep-Beep would obediently do as he was told and I often wondered if she made him take a nap every day when I wasn't there.  I'm sure if she did, he didn't say no...NO ONE ever went against what Aunt Berniece said to do.

So, upon reminiscing about my childhood baby-sitters, I have found that THEY also have shaped who I am today.  This is what I know for sure:  I only take naps when I want to...I don't leave the hair salon until I like the way my hair looks...and I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wear ugly shoes!

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