Charles was my mother’s older brother. Not Charlie, never Chuck – Charles.
Charles married Sara Bertha – Sara B. to all who knew her.
They were born in Mississippi, but ended up living and raising their family in Memphis, Tenn.
Charles was a joker from way back, my mom would say. He and mom had that red-cheeked smile that percolated quickly into a roaring laugh. Another family trait: Their eyes sparkled with mischief when they were happy, even if they had no intention of getting into trouble. Tears rolled down their faces when they laughed too hard, which was often.
Mom told many stories about teenaged Charles’ pet monkey Pete. The two would go for a car ride, and when Charles hit the gas too hard, Pete would bang on the seat until he slowed down.
Sara B. loved to cook. She wasn’t strict, but she maintained an air of disapproval to keep up with her husband’s teasing. I remember she wore flowing, long lounging dresses. Sara B. had that classic, indelible Southern hospitality gene. “I just made a pitcher of lemonade. Y’all come sit and I’ll pour you a cold glass.”
Just as Charles was ready with a joke or rib, Sara B. was ready to shake her head and roll her eyes. Smiling, eventually.
One of my last memories of Sara B. was after she passed away. Mom and I were going through the family home in Memphis with my cousin Rosebud, Sara B.’s daughter. She opened the medicine cabinet, and there was a barely used bottle of Estée Lauder perfume. “Beautiful.” Rosebud said, “That was Mom’s favorite.” Now, I think of “Beautiful” when I think of Sara B. And I think of Sara B. when I come across that perfume.
I was stopped in my tracks recently going through TJ’s, when I saw this:
If my Aunt Sara B. had a wine named after her, it might look like this.
After seeing that, I turned and saw the pylon of Charles Shaw wine crates stacked across from the boxes of Sara Bee. Here’s a sample:
And I realized – there’s my aunt and uncle memorialized in wine across the aisle from one another at Trader Joe’s. A light white wine and a hearty red.