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Wild Cherry Life Savers

June 12, 2012

I went to my older daughter’s end-of-school party the other day. I was a little sad that she was getting old so quickly, but had fun anyway. Right after an all-grade Bollywood dance – pretty awesome, I should add, to watch 100 second-graders dance on a sunny morning to Indian rhythms – she slipped a red Starburst in my hand. ‘I won it and I know how much you like red candy.’ I smiled.I love red candy (refer to my post about Red Vines), and I blame my great Aunt Marie for my vice and the currents of red dye flowing through my veins. My great-aunt Marie never married. Instead, she chose to help her younger sister, my nana, raise her three boys. Then, she assumed the role of grandparent to all of the boys’ grandchildren. She lived just a few minutes from her sister her whole life, so a visit to my grandmother was always a visit with my great-aunt, too.

Great-aunt Marie took grandparenting to another level of indulgence. As several of her nieces and nephews have commented, we don’t believe she ever won a game of CandyLand, go-fish or crazy eights. She always let us add the half&half and sugar to her coffee. When my grandmother and great-aunt took us to an amusement park in Chicago when we were older, they had a problem. They couldn’t possibly let my brother go on the triple loopty-loop roller coaster by himself, but of course he had to go. So Marie, at somewhere near 70 years old, gamely rode the most insane ride I have ever seen. She truly looked like she would pass out when she tottered off the ride.

But one of the most clear memories I have is the Life Savers candy. Whenever we first saw her during our visit, we would run toward her and start rummaging through her large purse. Tucked away between tissues and a change purse were always 2 packs of LifeSavers – usually Butter Rum, Rainbow or, when I was lucky, Wild Cherry. And it was the most exciting thing for a kid from a low-sugar home to find these treasures, and eat them all to myself. I truly do love cherry candy, but I think more than that it takes me back to my time with my exceptional great-aunt Marie.

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