My paternal grandmother’s first cousin, Myrtle Virginia HILLARD BURROUGHS (1903-1977), was unusual.
The Myrtle I knew
When I knew Myrtle, she was a widow and she had no children. She worked in an office and always wore stylish clothes and lots of pancake makeup, as it was called in those days.
She even smoked unfiltered cigarettes, and she drank a cup of hot water with her meals instead of coffee. Myrtle seemed like an eccentric old lady to me when I was growing up.
Myrtle and my dad were close, and Myrtle often came and stayed with us for a few days at a time, several times a year.
A bug ‘attacks’
One summer evening when Myrtle was staying with us, I was outside playing with friends when an insect flew into my ear. I screamed! It was so loud in my ear, and it was painful and made an itching feeling deep inside.
Dad and Myrtle came running out the door when they heard me screaming. “Get it out,” was all I could say at first. I finally said enough for them to understand the problem.
Myrtle takes over
My father looked in my ear and couldn’t see anything. He was at a loss about what to do, but Myrtle took control of the situation.
“Charlie, go get a flashlight,” she said to my father. He was gone and back in a few seconds with a flashlight.
“It’ll be out in a moment,” Myrtle assured me. I was skeptical, but I was willing to give the old lady a chance.
Myrtle turned on the flashlight and put it up to my ear. I felt the bug moving as it quickly came to the light. Myrtle calmly reminded me to be still. In seconds, it was out of my ear and flying away.
Myrtle and I both smiled. I gained a new-found respect for quirky Myrtle that evening.
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