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19 September 2009

A second spoonful of brandy makes the first one go down... I have a few anecdotes I’d like to tell you about my sister-in-law’s grandmother, “Mrs. Wren”. I met Mrs.Wren a few times. She was a very quiet, very sweet-natured woman with silvery-purple hair, and she was also very tiny – maybe eighty-five pounds, give or take. She lived to see her nineties. Her memory wasn’t the best in her later years, which led to some amusing incidents.[More:]

Whenever my sister-in-law’s family had a get together, Mrs. Wren always knew that my sister-in-law’s children were her great-grandchildren. But she never remembered my brother, and would always quietly ask my sister-in-law, “Who is that man you came with?” One day upon being asked this for the hundredth time, my sister-in-law said, “He’s just someone I picked up on my way here.” Mrs. Wren looked rather anxious, and said, “Oh! Dear, are you sure that’s safe?”

My sister-in-law’s mother threw a birthday tea party for her mother one year, and invited a number of Mrs. Wren’s long-time friends and neighbours. For this event, Mrs. Wren dressed in her best dress, which was lavender and which she always wore with a matching silk corsage. She regularly commented to her daughter and granddaughters how much she liked this corsage because it matched her dress so well. Her granddaughters always thought that the lavender corsage and dress also went perfectly with her lavender hair.

At the party Mrs. Wren chatted with everyone, making sure to get around to talking with all her old friends like a good guest of honour, and saw to it that everyone was served with tea and refreshments. Then at the end of the party Mrs. Wren’s daughter asked Mrs. Wren if she would like to say a few words to everyone. Mrs. Wren got up and thanked everyone very graciously for coming, saying what a lovely time she’d had and how nice it had been of everyone to give her such nice presents, and then wound up with, “Now if you’ll all just tell me who you are, I’ll be sure to thank each and every one of you!”

My favourite Mrs. Wren story is that a day or two after moving in with my sister-in-law’s parents, Mrs. Wren came to her daughter with an empty brandy bottle, and told her that she had a “medicinal spoonful” of brandy every night at bedtime, doctor’s orders. And that she was out. Would her daughter get her another bottle?

This posed something of a problem for my sister-in-law’s mother, who is very much against drinking alcoholic beverages. However, if her mother had doctor’s orders for a medicinal dose of brandy, brandy she must have. So Mrs. Wren’s daughter drove to a LCBO in a neighbourhood where no one would know her, and earnestly explained to a store clerk that she never drank herself because she didn’t want to and didn’t think it was right and was terribly embarrassed to have to come to an LCBO for the first time in her life, but that she had to have a bottle of brandy for her mother for medicinal purposes, doctor’s orders.

The clerk showed her to the brandy section, and recommended that she take a larger bottle because it would last longer and mean fewer enbarrassing trips back to the LCBO. Mrs. Wren’s daughter bought the largest bottle of brandy the store stocked, took it back home and gave it to her mother.

Then a few days later Mrs. Wren brought her the empty bottle and sweetly requested a fresh one. Mrs. Wren’s memory not being the best, she was taking her medicinal spoonful much more often than once daily. And let’s remember the woman weighed eight-five pounds, so she probably had spent the two previous days wasted.

Mrs. Wren’s daughter could not bear to contemplate another return to the LCBO, so she sent her husband to get the next brandy bottle, and after that the bottle was kept in the linen closet and doled out to Mrs. Wren at bedtime, one doctor-approved spoonful at a time.
I loved this Orange Swan.

*waits to hear more*
posted by gomichild 19 September | 17:40
You are a great storyteller. If you had a blog I'd be a regular reader. Thanks for this, I really enjoyed it!
posted by Kangaroo 19 September | 17:42
that was great!
posted by jonathanstrange 19 September | 18:07
posted by richat 19 September | 22:05
Awh, poor lady, having her brandy confiscated! That's just mean!
posted by Dejah 20 September | 13:52
I love your stories.
posted by Specklet 20 September | 16:22
You are a fantastic storyteller. I hope you keep these somewhere; they'd be fun essays to read.
posted by redvixen 21 September | 21:02
Cooking With Christopher Walken || pjern: nice group here tonight