This is not the post I intended to publish today. But as I was attempting to finish a post about my relationship with my mother in law (juicy!) all I could think about was drafting a post in honor of my aunt. Late Monday night we got the news that one of the sick family members I mentioned in my post last Friday had passed away.
My aunt was a colorful person who lived an exotic, exciting and difficult life. The world is just a little bit less colorful today than it was while she was with us.
She was eccentric. Not in a crazy cat lady kind of way but more of a humanities professor at an East Coast college kind of way. KWIM? Her taste in clothing, jewelry and decor told the story of a wealthy, worldly person who wasn’t consumed by her wealth. There was always a constant and unspoken reminder around her that the best person you can be is yourself.
She was adventurous. My aunt lived all over the world. She married a man whose career would bring her to a part of the world that most of us know little about other than to be afraid of its draconian laws and culture. It’s not on anyone’s must-see travel bucket list. Her adventures were made possible by her bravery, which I can’t help but think was supported by her strong faith.
She was faith-full. To God, country and her fellow man. My aunt never met a stranger and she never failed to extend a Christlike compassion to anyone. Years abroad made her a very proud American with a vested interest in domestic politics. She was actually one of the people who spurred my love of politics and our discussions and debates go back to my early teenage years.
She was respectful. I realize that is a weird character trait to memorialize, but hear me out. Going along with the compassion that she extended to everyone was a hearty dose of respect. I distinctly remember that she treated me as an adult years before other family members did because that was her way. Not only that, but she treated difficult seasons with a brave face and a deep respect for everyone involved.
She was resilient. Neither oppressive political culture nor messy middle-aged divorce nor serious health issues could bring her down. LIfe was a thing to be fully lived within the bounds of one’s circumstances and she chose to continue to find ways to enjoy life regardless of the struggles she faced.
She embraced vulnerability. I wonder whether my aunt’s secret to staying strong was allowing herself to be vulnerable with the people she was closest to. I remember a visit when I was in my early teens where the women (and me…I got to count as an adult in her world) sat around our family room talking and laughing and crying with her as she detailed her recent (heartbreakingly messy) divorce and how she was really doing. This was a far, far cry from the stiff upper lip that my family operates with. I had never seen an adult cry outside of a funeral and I had never seen someone embrace feelings in the way that she was. Does that make sense? It floored my teenage self.
As this post goes live I will be packing up my black dress and sparkliest necklace to honor my aunt. (She loved jewelry and anything shiny, so it’s only fitting.) Memorials are always hard, but I know this one will be beautiful. My aunt had a huge number of friends and confidants and I’m sure the diversity of the gathering will reflect her eccentric spirit.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!