Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lessons from my Aunt

My beloved aunt has died.

It happened while I was in the hospital and so it's taken me awhile to write a proper post.  I have so much I could say, particularly a recitation of all my good memories--learning ASL with her, working at camp during the summer near her, going to college in her town, all of our letters and phone calls and visits in my four plus decades--or a sketch of her personality and character and a mini-bio.

But I've boiled it down, instead, to lessons I absorbed (and will continue to) through our time together. 
  • Be creative and make something beautiful.  She sketched, painted, took photographs, made lovely gift tags, wrote beautiful longhand letters.
  • Look for the good. . . avoid the negative.  We always said she had rose-colored glasses.
  • Take it easy. No stress re world events, future, competition, ambition.  She was mindful before it was a thing.
  • Always have good snacks on hand.  She would serve yummy nibbles--special olives, crackers, cookies.
  • Have rituals and traditions. She kept a daily weather journal, had a daily 5 o'clock drink, and hosted a big Bay Fest party every year.
  • Make the most of the moment and celebrate!  Not just birthdays and bay fests and Christmas, she liked to make littler moments special.  And she would make celebrations last as long as possible (birthdays and Christmas didn't have to be just one day.)  Also, anticipation was sometimes the best part.
  • Learn something new and pursue special interests.  Keep reading, thinking, listening.  She loved Renaissance, Pre-Raphaelite, and Pre-Columbian art (especially Botticelli and Michelangelo and Rosetti), Napoleon and French history (being born on Bastille Day and all), Scottish music.
  • Plan. Make lists of things you need to do. Save for college, vacations.
  • Live simply. No consumerism or materialism, no acquisition of stuff, no interest in brands, trends, fashions, styles.
  • Accept and embrace others. She welcomed all--her Catholic monk son, her lesbian niece, Chinese niece-in-law, Downs syndrome granddaughter, all of her deaf and special needs students, etc.  
  • Listen and pay attention.  When you were with her, you were the center of everything.  She always made me feel so special.
  • Embellishment makes things interesting.  She loved to talk about her Picasso table and our Scottish ancestry going back to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots (including "our" castle.)
  • Make your own opportunities (always carry your swimsuit just in case!)
May she rest in peace and may those of us who loved her be comforted.


  1. Now there was a woman and a half, clearly she looked after heaven on earth. The world is a lesser place without her. Perhaps her son carries on her good work.