I am just astonished that many of my readers didn't believe a single word of the meme I recently maimed. A few people requested that I elaborate on some of the items. So here's the story of our Thanksgiving dinners with Tsar Nicholas' daughter. Anastasia, the Grand Duchess of Russia was sadly killed during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918, but there were at least ten women who claimed to be her. One of them was friends with my great aunt Edith in Newport RI. She had published a book detailing her life in Russia and possessed numerous pictures of herself and the Royal family. My great uncle Buster always believed her. He'd say, "Just think! You had Thanksgiving with royalty."
The weird thing is that no one called her Anastasia. She was just Mrs. Smith. I have memories of her from when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I already towered over her because she was so very tiny and very frail. She'd come up to me after church and talk at great length in a teeny tiny whispering voice. I usually couldn't understand a word she said so I'd stare at her eye folds. She had these crazy rubbery eye folds that hung almost all the way down to her eyelashes. She used to paint really beautiful Easter eggs and pass them around after church. As she got older the intricate painted lines on the eggs became wigglier and wigglier, but they were still beautiful. Everybody in Newport was so solicitous of her. They'd lean over and listen to her, then escort her around as if she were one of those fragile Easter eggs.
One Thanksgiving, when we were quite a bit older, my (awesome rock star of a) sister and I were charged with driving her safely home. Maybe it was just a mistake to entrust her to us because we can sometimes be a little on the irreverent side. Every sibling in my family should have been automatically banned from coming within ten feet of that poor, sweet woman especially after my older brother tried to grill her repeatedly about how Catherine the Great died. Anyhow, I think I was driving, Anastasia was riding shotgun and my sister was in back. All of a sudden, the aroma of the car's interior underwent a drastic and most unfortunate transformation. We had all been making small talk. Anastasia continued, undaunted; making her whispery, quiet, small talk and I could hear my sister's voice become clipped as if she were stifling a laugh. You know how when you suppress a really, really powerful laugh it sounds like you're crying? I managed to cry out very quietly "Was...that....youu?" I think I was laughing so hard all I could emit were a few gasps of air and tears were just streaming down my face. From the back seat: "No...I...think...that...was...a...royal...one..."
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