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February 20, 2014

Otra reina del sur: One Family's Queen

Regena, 1917

Aptly named, my Aunt Regena acted queenly from a young age. Here, she is just 16, southern belle and budding intellect. Her credits include: Secretary of the Senior Literary Club, Junior Class Poet, DAR Medal Winner, English Medal Winner, and proud member of the Suffragettes Club. After high school, she traveled from her native Mississippi to earn a degree at the University of Chicago. She had more than intellect and charm, however. Hers also the gift and curse of clairvoyance.

After college, she fell in love and married Mr. West, who managed a large farm. One day, two farm workers started a fight. Mr. West tried to break it up. In the process, he was injured. He was rushed to the hospital, where my clairvoyant aunt told the doctors that her husband's spleen had ruptured. They chose not to believe her, chose not to operate, and he died. The doctors later asked Regena's forgiveness. I can still remember the look in her large grey eyes when she told me the story. "They told me that if they had taken me seriously, my husband would not have died."

I don't believe she was ever truly happy again. She devoted herself to teaching the literature that she loved to high school students. She recited long passages of classical poetry at the dinner table when the relatives gathered. I found it enthralling--a word I rarely use, or feel.

At some point in Regena's life, a gypsy woman (so she said) taught her to read cards. I still have the notes I made when Aunt Regena read mine. Contrary to the cards' advice, I did marry the Jack of Spades, and, in keeping with their prediction, the marriage did not last.

Regena's life ended in a tiny house in a poor neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi. The caretakers she paid to help her took most of what she owned. Years before this sad turn of events took place, Regena gave me her beloved (reproduction) statue of Nefertiti. The fact that we both held a fascination for ancient Egypt was one of several factors that made us kindred spirits, as well as kin. I look at the statue daily. It has a special place in my office. I maintain that the queen in Regena never died. I hope she is now reunited with her true love, reigning over their eternal happiness.

As for me, I'm still waiting for the King of Hearts my aunt promised me as she scanned the arrangement of those rectangular messengers. After all, who else but a queen could promise me a king?

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