*This week for #52Weeks52Stories I focused on the use of first-person and practiced creating an “unreliable narrator.”
Alva D. Reynolds
EDINA, KNOX COUNTY, MISSOURI–Alva D. (Hopkins) Reynolds, 79, of Edina died Thursday at the Martin Luther Memorial Home. I heard she died of natural causes. That’s unfortunate. I know an obituary is supposed to be where you say all the nice things you can about a person and where you’re supposed to make their life sound all meaningful and what-not, but I can’t do that. I’m not a liar. Alva, on the other hand, was the biggest liar I ever knew. A woman like her should have suffered a long, slow painful death.
Mrs. Reynolds was born December 17, 1939, here in Knox County at Edina General on the same day as me. My birth, according to my mama, was easy. I came out all pink and glowy like a baby is supposed to. My mama says that the nurses were just a cooin’ over me and everyone was taking turns holding me and sayin’ how precious I was. That is until Alva D. Hopkins showed up about an hour later. She came out a bruised, purpley color–something about comin’ out wrong side up, and swallowin’ some of that fluid. Couldn’t breathe. She was choking and carrying on and of course the doctors and nurses all panicked and left my room to go tend to her. That’s how she was, ya know. Always stealing the limelight. Always doing whatever she had to do to get all the attention even if it meant almost dyin’.
Mrs. Reynolds graduated top of her class at Edina High in 1957 and was known for her involvement in the school and in the community. Like the time she stole the String Bean Queen crown from me. I don’t mean stole it like I had it and then she took it away. I mean like that crown was mine–it was all but in the bag. But you know Alva. She couldn’t stand for me to win, so she sabotaged me. That’s right. And I can prove it. I had this amazing baton routine. I practiced for hours and hours every day after school. And I was good. I could throw that baton so high, and it would twist and twirl and spin all over the place and then ta da! It would land gentle as a dove back in my hand. Alva, she saw my routine at rehearsals. I knew it cut her to the bone to see me looking so cute and just smiling and playing it up on stage. It was eatin’ her heart right out of her rib cage. The day of the show, she asked the pageant director if she could change talents–she started with this really ugly hula hoop routine. I could barely keep a straight face every time I saw her do it at rehearsals–so she changed talents, and guess what talent she picked? Yep. You guessed it. Baton twirlin’. She hadn’t practiced much, so, when she went on stage, she only did average like. It was better than I thought she’d do. But it was nowhere near my skills. And, then it was my turn to go on. And wouldn’t ya know it. My baton was missing. Gone. I didn’t want to take a zero in the talent category, so I had to think fast. Off to the side was Alva’s old stupid hula hoop. I had no choice. I went out there and did what I could, but who can get a good score with a hula hoop? So Alva won. I wanted to rip that crown right off her head when the director put it on her.
Mrs. Reynolds went on to attend the University of Central Missouri where she majored in Getting a Husband–she definitely got her diploma in that, if you get me. I swear she walked across the graduation stage then right down the aisle of the nearest chapel. That’s how fast it was. They moved back here and man, she always acted like she was so much better than us. Had that degree posted right up by the front door when you walked into their little house. She acted like everything was so good and wonderful in her life–that house with the white picket fence and her three kids. Always dragging them to some activity or another–swim, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, T-ball. Always somethin’ so she could sit in the stands and clap and play the good wife and the proud mommy. Rumors started flyin’ through the town that her husband was cheatin’ on her, and I believed them. Can’t blame the man for a wanderin’ eye with a wife that always wanted more. Every time that man got a promotion or a pay raise, there was Alva with her hand out askin’ for somethin’ new. Or so I heard.
Mrs. Reynolds served as Edina’s 4th of July Parade Chairperson for 17 years, as Treasurer of the Edina High School PTA for 10 years, and she was a part-time employee at Croswell Jeweler’s for 4 years. All during which time she was stealin’ money from everyone. I swear, it’s true. Wherever Alva went, there was hearsay about money goin’ missin’. My kids even told me that her kids used to steal the lunch money from other kids at school. Where’d they learn that? From their momma, Alva, that’s where.
Mrs. Reynolds is survived by her three children: Mrs. Barbara Rae Allen of Portland Oregon–who moved as far away as she could from her mother; Mrs. Judy Lee Danziger of St. Louis–she’ll probably be the only one to go to her own momma’s funeral; and Mrs. Robin Anne Nickerson of Toledo, Ohio–haven’t seen her back in Edina since she left years ago.
Funeral services for Mrs. Reynolds will be held at the Walton Funeral Center in Edina at 2pm on Sunday. I know I’m supposed to feel bad that she’s dead. But I don’t. Hard to pay respects to a woman you don’t have respect for.