My father’s last aunt moved in with us when I was ten and she was a thousand. Eighty-three, to be truthful, and virgin pure but sadly broke down. She’d lived near us, in her family home, all her life and mine. Only when she tried to rise one morning, stepped through a wormy board by her bed and stayed there trapped till my father found her just before supper, did she even consider giving up the old house. Pure as she was, she’d raised my father when his own mother died; but once he got her foot unstuck, even he had to put the truth to her plain. “Old Lock, time’s up. You’ve outlived your house. We offer you ours.”

Aunt Lock knew we did no such thing. Not if we included my mother, which it had to. Mother had dreaded Lock’s arrival from the moment my father proposed. She always said “He popped the question, then showed me the fly in his ointment—he was duty-bound to see Miss Lockie to the grave in kindness, assuming he or anybody outlived her.” To explain that my mother was known, statewide, as loving to a fault and a martyr to kindness is a quick way to say what Lock was like, by then anyhow, that far gone in time.