TIPTOE AROUND TIP
Growing up, I had four sisters-in-law in my life. Katie was married to my brother Glenn. The three Eaves sisters-in-law were Isobel (Monte), Tip (Pat) and Mildred (Easy). They were adults—I was just a child— and it wasn’t really clear how to relate to them. Tip was the most complicated one—and I always felt like we should tiptoe around her to prevent a possible explosion. She was definitely a strong-willed and outspoken woman—and when she lost her temper, we cringed.
Except for this photo of her with her baby daughter Patsy and a few others taken that same visit to our house “up on the hill,” I can’t find any others. She was attractive but didn’t seem to care much about makeup and clothes. She seemed nervous and was almost often smoking a cigarette. She loved the game of bridge and was very good at it. She played contract bridge in tournaments, was in several competitive bridge clubs in Cookeville and on visits to Athens, often sat playing autobridge.
She and my brother Pat seemed like total opposites in personality. He was soft-spoken, gentle, and never seemed to get upset. That seemed to irritate Tip—and she often began yelling at him angrily while he would just continue reading his newspaper or magazine without any response. I was just 11 months older than Patsy—and she probably thought I should treat her like she was my mother. Thinking we were sisters-in-law instead, I dared to disagree with some of her comments occasionally. Not a good idea! She would start scong me and Arley would spring to my defense. It was complicated.
She adored their only child Patsy and pressured her to be popular and beautiful, which she was. When I visited them, she always wanted all the details of Patsy’s interactions with her school friends and liked to hang around whenever they came to the house. When Patsy was named Miss Tennessee, Tip was thrilled and excitedly went with her to the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. Tip was not pleased when her girl didn’t win the Miss America title, and stirred up some controversy in her criticism of the pageant and judges!
After Patsy married and had her own two children, Tip finally seemed to relax and was able to enjoy her grandchildren! And they never had to tiptoe around Tip.