This past month my family lost a dear friend-Millie. Usually when speaking of someone who has passed, it's customary to highlight their accomplishments and attributes. I'd love to reflect on Millie's life and give her the kind of dedication I know she deserves. But for my sisters and I, we only knew Millie as our babysitter. I never asked where she went to school, where she grew up, or what she did for 40+ years of her life before she babysat us. All I knew was that Millie would be there when I got home from school. So in honor and remembrance of Millie, the following is the life of the Millie I knew.
1. Millie was deathly afraid of snakes. Millie grew up in the south- this much I deduced from her thick southern accent. I've since been told it was somewhere in the Virginias. I can only assume a traumatic childhood confrontation led to her irrational and lifelong fear of snakes. I don't quite know how Sara and I came across this information, but we treated it like gold. A trip to the Dollar Tree later, and we were in possession of two rubber snakes. We then used these props to terrorize Millie and exploit her fear as often as possible. Knowing that Millie would make Sara drink her milk, Sara would wrap the rubber snake around the gallon of milk to scare Millie off. So intense was her fear that the very sight of snakes, rubber or otherwise, sent her screaming. I once wrapped the snake around a jug of juice, and then politely asked for a cup of juice. Sara and I spiraled the snake around the doorknob and ding-dong ditched our own house. We laughed, she cried, and a good time was had by all (except Millie).
2. Millie was family. Sort of... My Grandpa Joe had a sister. His sister married a man who shall remain nameless due to his 'sketchy' history and subsequent ex-con status. She passed away. John Doe married Millie. Got it? She was my great-half-aunt-ish.
3. Millie liked to fatten up the kiddies. Well, Gracie specifically. Everyday after kindergarten, Millie would take Grace to the McDonalds down the street. Grace would have a Happy Meal that included French Fries, a Cheeseburger, and a Chocolate Shake- she was 5 years old. Practically being in a food induced coma, Grace would fall asleep on the couch while Millie caught up on her soaps. Occasionally, my sisters and I would walk up to the local restaurant, The Purple Onion, with Millie and Grandma Anna. It was approximately a ten minute walk, but Millie and Grandma (or 'Gramaw Annie' as Millie referred to her) would pick berries from questionable bushes along the way as though we were preparing for a long winter ahead. They would then INSIST that we ate the berries. Sara and I would adamantly avoid them, but Grace was too young to know better. Once at The Purple Onion, Millie would tear open a few servings of Half & Half and have Gracie drink them, exclaiming, "Yeah, you can drink it!" Well sure, you can drink it, but it's up for debate whether a 5 year old should down a few shots of Half & Half.
4. Millie was perpetually 29 years old. It seemed like every day I would ask Millie her age. Even as a six year old, it was obvious to me that Millie was an older woman. She wore T-shirts with cats on them and could drink coffee at any time of the day. Plus, she was friends with my Grandma so I assumed they must do old lady things together, like read The National Enquirer and smoke Virginia Slims Ultra Light Regulars. But everytime I asked her age, Millie would reply,"I'm 29 darlin'. "
5. I once drove Millie's car. It was an accident, and I was six. Here's what happened: It was the first week or two at our new school and Sara was in third grade, I was in first and Grace was about 3. Sara missed the bus home so Millie, Grace, and I had to leave our new house to pick up Sara. When we all returned home, we quickly realized that we were locked out. Millie didn't have a key yet, and none of us knew the code for our garage door (We later found out it was 1234). We were stuck outside until one of my parents could get home to open the door. The blistering August sun began to bother Grace and me so Millie turned on her car's air conditioner and had us sit inside. I was six and curious so, of course, I yanked on the shiftstick and put it in reverse. Slowly, at a snail's pace, we began rolling backwards. Soon enough, the moving car caught Millie's eye and she darted to the car, ran alongside my window, and frantically tried to motion at the emergency brake. I was screaming, Grace was screaming, and Millie was screaming. The car was probably moving at all of two miles per hour, but at the time I thought I was accelerating violently into my friend Diana's house. Eventually I found the emergency brake, and Millie had us wait outside. Of course, I never told Millie I pulled the stickshift- I acted confused and said I kicked it.
6. Millie may have been a hooker. This nugget of information comes from my Grandma. It was after Millie had already begun babysitting us when my Grandma casually mentioned to my Mom, "She was a hooker ya know?" Of course her days as lady of the night were years ago. Perhaps she was mixed up in the wrong crowd when she met her John Doe, but decided to start anew with a family. I urge you to consider the source (my Grandma). The details are sketchy.
And that's what I knew of Millie. She was what you'd call a tough cookie. She never hesitated to speak her mind and often did so loudly. She was also a warm, loving woman who cared about my sisters and I like we were her own, and had a boisterous scratchy laugh that I'll never forget. She spent her last days at her home in Las Vegas. She moved out to Vegas after Gracie grew up because the weather made her feel good, and she loved the atmosphere. When she passed away of stomach cancer she was 29 (okay, 77).