I don't know my relatives well. I have a fair number of them. But I am not really a people person. And we are Scandinavian Minnesotan. So that's my excuse. I don't know my relatives well, and I am not a people person, but I write... and it is through my writing that I came to know one of my relatives better.
My aunt married my mother's oldest brother. He died the same year I was born. The same year his daughter was born. I met her in person twice. Once I traveled with my parents and my brothers on a cross-country trip from Minnesota to California.
We were the cousins who don't know that when it is cold and it is May you don't swim in the ocean. We were the cousins who were amazed at snails on the sidewalks (an older cousin crushing them beneath his feet just as we would step on ants). We were the cousins who could not imagine windows without screens. What must it be like to live in a place where you didn't need to keep the insects out? We marveled at strawberries the size of our fists. We laughed when people apologized for the "bad weather" when it was not picture postcard sunny.
That was the first time I met my aunt. I remember that she was kind. And that when she wanted to wear a shirt that was wrinkled, she put it back in the dryer to see if that would take the wrinkles out. I share this with her. I have as one of my core values that I will do whatever it takes not to iron my clothing. I discovered, by the way, that if it comes out of the dryer wrinkled, I can spray it with water and hang it overnight in the bathroom. I remember my aunt when I do this.
The second time I met my aunt I was in my twenties. My parents were divorced. I did not yet have children. I remember less from that visit. I remember my mom taking pictures. I remember my cousin was there. And some friends. I remember laughing.
My real connection to my aunt, though, came through writing. Through this.
She read my blog religiously. And although she did not react to each and every thing I wrote, she reacted to the ones that mattered... she said the things I needed to hear.
You are an amazing person. You have such a gift. You are strong. You are your mother's daughter. I can tell where you get your sense of humor.
And even when I was not having a hard time, she would comment on how much she enjoyed my writing and getting to know me through my words.
When I began selling my beadwork on ETSY, she was my first customer. She purchased a monarch butterfly pin that she framed and displayed in her house.
I do not know my relatives well. We are not close. Not even the ones who live near me. But I felt close to my aunt. And I will miss her.
Quaker, teacher, parent,