When I was in the 5th grade, my Aunt Cookie, her husband D, and their Pekingese dogs, Moto and Toto, came to live with us. I still not sure the circumstances, but I was glad to have them there. Cookie was barely 5 feet, as round as she was tall, and wore an enormous red bouffant wig. She kept her wigs on styrofoam heads in her room, lined up on the dresser. Sometimes, she'd let me play with them. She'd also let me play with her extensive collection of notary embossers. It never occurred to me that it was unusual to have an extensive collection of notary embossers.
They were loud, they consistently showed bad judgment, and they drove my parents crazy.
I loved them.
During their brief stay with us, they convinced my mother to start a variety of home based businesses. She painted plaster statues of cowboys for awhile, stuff like this -
They went through jobs like mad. The wig store. The Halloween store. The bean enterprise. And then, one day, they were just gone. My parents wouldn't answer questions, so I knew there had been a falling out. Several days later, Cookie and D showed up at my elementary school, to tell me they were sorry and they'd keep in touch.
I never saw them again.
A few weeks went by, and then the FBI started calling. Cookie and D had embezzled money from half a dozen companies from Oklahoma to North Carolina. The feds called every week, asking the same questions - have you seen them? Have you talked to them?
We had not.
The calls stopped and it wasn't until years later that we found out they'd been captured and sent to separate prisons in Texas.
When they were released, they found their way to Perkins, Oklahoma, and showed up unannounced at my Great Aunt's house. Family is family, even when they're criminals, so she invited them in for a meal. In the course of conversation, the subject of the Pekingese dogs came up. Poor Moto and Toto, it was revealed, has died within days of each other, while Cookie and D were incarcerated.
"Oh, that is too bad. I am so sorry." My auntie said.
"Yes, but they are always with us." Cookie replied.
"Of course, our dear pets are always in our hearts."
"No, Moto and Toto are always with us." and she pulled from her purse two small white boxes containing the cremated remains of the dogs.
That visit was the last time any of us heard from them.
If ever you are traveling through the Midwest and you run across a short, round woman with big red hair and the remains of two small dogs in her purse, tell her I said hello.
And in a completely unrelated note, my friend J. Rose from Cheeseblarg has a piece of her artwork being shown in New York City (New York City!), and is looking for sponsors to get her there. Watch her impassioned plea, and help her if you can, here:
Cheeseblarg Takes Manhattan
2 weeks ago