A denizen of another room was my mother's sister Minnie, a frowze with a loose mouth and hair like dyed straw, our "good-hearted slob", always ready to give any of us the shirt off her back and to excoriate whoever declined it. Long ago married to a soldier, and widowed by the Spanish-American War, Minnie had moved back into the flat with her small boy, to leave him in the old lady's hands while she went out working as a waitress; one evening she came home to find the boy was dead, he had fallen into the cellarway and opened his skull. For years afterward when Mary Dore was watching the night, elbowed on her cushion and half out the window high above the streetlamps, it was for Minnie's homeward lurching as much as Ben's, and indeed a night came when Minnie, drunk in the street with another waitress, saw her sidekick hit and killed by a trolley car. With Minnie in and disrobing her fortyish charms, the stubby old mother would shuffle around in her nightgown and shawl grumbling--fine hour of night to be out, fine thing not knowing where a daughter was or who with or doing what, fine condition to come home in too--until Minnie would say, "Shove it up your ass, Ma," and topple into bed.
-from A MASS FOR THE DEAD, by William Gibson
painting by Trevor Stubley