As I plan for my mom's 70th birthday, I've been spending time with family... gathering old pictures, collecting anecdotes...
The more time I spend with my family, especially my beloved Aunties, the more I understand about myself. An hour, a day or a weekend with them does more for me than I'd get from years of therapy. I learn from their triumphs and fears... from their convictions and observations.
The oldest is Aunt Pat. Her real name is Martha and she's an extraordinary textile artist. She's also an environmentalist who loves Mozart. She spent most of her childhood living in a sharecroppers shack. She paints vivid pictures of life in the 1930s and 40s with her colorful stories. I pray I can remember them all.
Next in line is Aunt Nell. Her real name is Carrie Linell and she's a fierce negotiator at yard sales. She currently has her own yard sale ministry. She invests the money she'd planned to tithe in yard sale items and sells them in upscale consignment stores. Most months she doubles her money. She's the family's number one bargain shopper and self-appointed news reporter of family business.
Aunt Ada has the kindest spirit of all. Her faith is never far from her lips. She inspires you to seek God. A creative jewelry-maker (before beading got popular). She is as creative as she is thoughtful. You need help with a project? Ada is the first to volunteer her support.
Aunt Reacie is the baby girl of the bunch. She never met a party she didn't like. At 68, she knows all the latest dances. Fiesty beyond belief, she is always prepared to voice and defend her opinion.
Aunt Doris, or Tante as I like to call her, was claimed by the family when she and my mom became friends at college. A talented writer and taskmaster. Greatness was polished at her dining room table where she critiqued book reports and speeches. Impersonations are her speciality.
I've taken a bit from each of them and I'm thankful for all of them.