14 Oct


Judy Wills

My mother-in-law was a gem. She was funny, cute, elegant, classy, down-to-earth, loved to laugh, and welcomed me into the family as a daughter. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I married her first-born.

Her name was Charlotte Emily, but I had never heard anyone call her anything but Kitty. Occasionally a niece would mention “Aunt Charlotte” but that’s about it. She rapidly became a second mother to me, and I loved her.

I was always curious as to where the nickname “Kitty” came from, and found it to be a most interesting and amusing story. In her own words:

“…when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I was given a nick-name, Kitty! This came about in the winter when we were skating on a small lake in Monroe, New York. My sister Eleanor told some friends about an episode when we were living in Windham, New

York. Our Mother and her three daughters were enjoying the evening sitting on our front porch, when a small black and white animal came creeping up the front walk. I began calling, “Kitty, kitty” and started down to pet him or her. As I got up my Mother said, “That’s not a cat – it’s a skunk!” Well, luckily, it turned and ran away without leaving the usual odor we associate with skunks. That winter when we, El and I, were skating, El told this story and from then on everyone on the ice began calling “Here Kitty, Kitty!” And I’ve been called Kitty every since!”

Mystery solved! I’ve heard similar stories before, but not where the name stuck.

Her father was a Scottish Presbyterian minister, who immigrated to the United States from Scotland during the Potato Famine in 1910. I remember her saying that she loved to hear the bagpipes play – it really got her blood up to a good boil!

She was devoted to her husband and their four children. Being a U.S. Air Force wife, she moved and traveled frequently. She had a flair for decorating, and her home was always elegant yet comfortable. I remember the story of how, in 1947 after World War II, her husband was assigned to an installation in Italy. He went over first, and then she made the trip with those four children in tow – ages 8, 4, and 2-year-old twins. She was a brave woman! They lived all over the world – many places in the United States as well as Italy, Japan, and Hawaii.

She was a great cook. She taught me to make turkey stuffing the “New England” way – with bread rather than cornbread. She taught me to make German Springerle Christmas cookies – the best I’ve ever eaten!

She loved to have fun, and was a bit of a cut-up. I will always remember her with me on the beach in northern California, dancing barefoot through the wet sand and kelp.

She left us in 2010, after about 10 years of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and so she actually left us many years before that. I miss her, still.

John 14:27

2 Responses to “Kitty”

  1. DiVoran Lites October 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Lovely story, fine tribute to a wonderful lady.



  1. People Do the Funniest Things | Old Things R New - March 18, 2018

    […] thought that was cute. She was such a jewel. If you want to know her better, please see my post of October 2, 2012 – Kitty. I really loved her, and miss her […]


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