Category Archives: People

The Doll from Aunt Ginny

I’m finally thinking of letting go of a folk-angel doll that my Aunt Ginny gave me one Christmas. It was definitely her style, not mine. We kept it with our Christmas things and put it up each year after we received it. It went more with the style of our Christmas things than with our general everyday eclectic-but-not-folksy style.

Aunt Ginny died shortly after Christmas 2015 and I didn’t put the doll back with the Christmas things after that, but kept her on my office sofa.

At the moment it is in the give away box, but I will probably transfer it to a Christmas box when I finish packing everything up for the season.

Flavia Weedn

I knew her only as Flavia, the woman who designed many of the cards I sent to people back when I still sent cards to people. In 1987 I bought an engagement calendar full of her work and her writing. Fifty-two drawings and fifty-two small poems. I came across it the other day.

When I wrote to people, especially on blank notecards, I often used one of Flavia’s little poems.

While I’ve outgrown the pastels of the artworks, I still like some of the sentiments…

Okay, I was wrong. I was unable to find one that I would send to someone. A little saccharine for the jaded person I have become.

Okay, I still like this one:

Two empty chairs at a small round table. Words at the top: Real friends are rare/We've shared tears, hopes and dreams, you and I/How lucky we are

What I am trying to say and not doing a very good job of it is that Flavia was a huge part of my letter writing life and I just wanted to put that out here.

My name

Someone in our blogging group suggested we write about our name. Note this was months ago — I am very much behind.

I was supposed to be Steve. Steven (Stephen? — probably not) Patrick. My parents were so sure I was going to be a boy that they didn’t pick out a girl’s name. When I was born I could not be named Stephanie because one of my mom’s best friends named her daughter Stephanie a couple of years earlier.

Rewind to my Mom’s pregnancy with me. Apparently my Uncle Don (my dad’s sister’s husband) was very excited about my upcoming birth. He and my dad were best friends and apparently he was looking forward to meeting me. He and my Aunt Leila had no children — I don’t know if it was by choice or not — and I think he was hoping we’d be close.

The story goes that when my Aunt and Uncle came to visit my mom in the hospital after I was born my Uncle suggested they name me Dona Lee — after him (Donald LeRoy). I guess they liked the idea (one “n” and all) so I became Dona Lee. (to be pronounced like Donna).

He had to wait about 23 days to hold me though because I was only 3 pounds and 9 ounces at birth. The hospital kept me for about 3 weeks.

My Uncle and I were very close. He called me Miss America and told me I was beautiful. He’d hold me in his arms and we’d “dance” around his living room while Paul Anka crooned “Put Your Head on my Shoulder” from the HiFi.

I know my parents loved me and they showed me that in many ways throughout my life, but my relationship with my uncle and namesake was more than special and tragically short because he died of heart failure when I was not yet seven years old. I still carry that grief — my first grief — with me today.

My Uncle Don in a set-up photo waiting for me to come home for the first time
My Uncle Don (the short one on the left) next to a tall man, also named Don.