Last night, I said goodbye to one of the strongest women I have ever known. I don't call her strong because of her sturdiness (although she could grow a mean garden and apparently taught her grandson how to climb a tree -- by demonstration, no less). And I don't call her strong because of her will to live and live well until 89 years old.
My Aunt Mildred was strong because of the quiet dignity she walked through life with. Her strength was obvious every time she submitted to her husband, laughed off arguments with just about anyone, or offered lucky guests a glass of her lemonade. Her strength showed the most not through what she did or what everyone knew she did, but through what she declined to do, and what many did not realize she was even capable of.
I think Auntie M, as I have lovingly referred to her in print for years, is one of the only people I've ever been close to who has not questioned me about moving from home to pursue my career, waiting until timing is just right to be married, or the reasons I do the silly things I do so very, very well. Aunt Mildred was strong enough to accept everyone for who they are, not for who they could be.
With undeniable strength, Aunt Mildred joined her little sister, my Nan, in unknowingly displaying the most beautiful pictorial of sisterhood that Kim and I could have ever witnessed. In fact, they did such a good job of this that it still doesn't bother me when people are amazed that Kim and I rarely fought when we were growing up (or fight now, for that matter). I have never felt weird or crazy for calling my sister my best friend in a world where that's very uncommon, and I'm almost certain my sanity in that area can be attributed to the loveliness and hilarity we grew up realizing as the norm for sister-to-sister relationships.
It took strength for Aunt Mildred to be herself in a world where conformity is praised. She wouldn't have had it any other way, though. She tended her roses, picked her cucumbers, studied God's Word, laughed without restraint, praised her family, and loved her way straight through what is now a long and beautiful legacy.
During the worst part of Aunt Mildred's illness, I realized that maybe I'm not being entirely selfish to mourn our loss of her. She was a beautiful asset to this world, and those of us who knew and loved her are definitely more blessed for the knowing and the loving.
I haven't been able to pass a Subway sandwich shop in ten years without hearing Aunt Mildred incredulously tell me that the "Subbie sandwich" I brought her was pretty good. And I'll never be able to see anyone's shoulders shake with laughter without seeing Aunt Mildred's beautiful smile and that twinkle her eyes were so famous for.
When I moved to Baton Rouge, Carl threw a "see you real soon" party and invited my closest friends. Despite the gap I feel when I think of no longer getting tickled with my sweet and precious great-aunt, I refuse to look at Aunt Mildred's entrance into a perfect and painless eternity as a bad thing. Instead, I am grateful that with the way time flies, we'll see her again in no time at all – and possibly eat a Subbie sandwich while we're at it.
See you real soon, Auntie M.
2 Comments - 2 Kudos
I am real sorry to hear about your Aunt. I know she was a good friend of Michael's Grandmother. I think I met her at Ms. Louise's house when we were there. She was a really nice person.Your Aunt Mildred and your family will be in my prayers.
Posted by Mary on January 26, 2008 - Saturday 7:08 AM
What a beautiful tribute to your aunt. My thoughts are with you & your family.
Posted by Bethanie on January 26, 2008 - Saturday 7:41 AM