Aunt Sallieís Sweet Water

Deb

Catherine opened the certified document she received through her DAís office mail. Wondering what it could be she noticed the return mail address, New Orleans, LA.

As she opened the document she tried to think back if she had any dealings with any criminals from the south, but couldnít come up with any. Inside the package there were crumbled floral paper, a small empty bottle and two notes.

The first note began:

Dear Catherine Chandler,
I am Francois Duperon Beaucoudray. I have recently inherited some things, including an old trunk that once  belonged to a cousinís sister,
Sallie Elizabeth Lillian Duperon.

Sallie Duperon, that name seemed vaguely familiar and with the sound of the name came an almost forgotten memory of hot summers and running barefoot under magnolia trees. Next came memories of walking under the pecan trees and a gentle voice saying, "Now Cathy baby, we will get us a whole mess of these pecans here and you can help me make a big ole pie for supper tonight."

And with that the memories began to flood back. She couldnít have been more than 8 years old the last time she saw Aunt Sallie and hadnít thought of her in ages, but now memories of Aunt Sallie began to creep into her mind. She remembered sitting on the big porch in the swing, her mom, dad, Aunt Sallie, and her husband nearby in big wooden rocking chairs. Speaking to herself she whispered, "What was his nameÖ. Luther? Yes, I think I remember calling him Uncle Luther." But the sound of Aunt Sallieís soft southern drawl is what she heard in her mind, "Now Luthaí you know that girl canít ride that old mule." She laughed as she remembered being led around the yard riding the mule with Uncle Lutherís straw hat balanced on the back of her head, all the while Aunt Sallie was shouting, "Now Luthaí you donít let that girl get hurt, now, ya hear me."

Continuing, the letter explained that through his research in trying to find her, he discovered that Aunt Sallie and Uncle Luther werenít really her relatives, they were friends of Charles Chandlerís parents. Catherineís family would visit New Orleans when she was a little girl. Aunt Sallie and Uncle Luther lived in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of New Orleans. She remembered sleeping in a little bed beside the open windows. The smell of ironed sheets, honeysuckle and magnolia blossoms all mixed together on the summer breeze. She remembered hearing dogs bark, owls hooting, the call of night birds, and the low croaking of bull frogs that lived near the river. And she remembered she could barely hear the Zydaco music from "an establishment" as Aunt Sallie called it, "across the river and down a bit" again remembering Aunt Sallieís voice.

As she read on, in the documents she had received, apparently Aunt Sallie and Uncle Luther both died in their sleep within six months of each other. Their few assets had been spread among family members. Recently, an old trunk was passed down to Mr. Beaucoudray and he found the little package wrapped in floral paper. Attached was a note, written in a shaky handwriting that said,

Happy birthday, Cathy. I am sending
you a bottle of my sweet water for you to
have in the big ole city of New York. And
when you run out, I am also sending you
the recipe so you and your mama can make some more. I love you and hope to see you soon,

Aunt Sallie

She remembered the huge, or it seemed so to her as a little girl, claw-foot tub she bathed in every night. Aunt Sallie made some kind of "sweet water" that she added in the bath and it smelled so good.

According to, Mr. Beaucoudray, Aunt Sallie died before she could get the package to Cathy and it ended up being tossed into the trunk along with other odds and ends.

And the letter continued:

As the years passed, the bottle leaked and
the little package came apart, but I am sending
you all the little parts and the empty bottle,
along with the recipe for Aunt Sallieís Sweet Water.
It is something that has been passed down through
our family. It is obvious Aunt Sallie  loved you like
family, so I embarked on this journey to find you.
I hope this letter finds you well and brings back
sweet memories of Aunt Sallie and Uncle Luther.
They never had children, but enjoyed spoiling all
the children in our family, myself included.

With Kind Regard,

Francois Duperon Beaucoudray

Catherine bought the ingredients and made a little batch of Sweet Water in honor of the unexpected gift. She told Vincent the story while they were on their way through the tunnels to their private bathing chamber. Vincent sniffed the scent when Catherine opened the little bottle. He loved it and they both enjoyed using it together.

"Underwater Hug" by Sandy Shelton