I remember at my dad's funeral when all these people stood up to tell stories about him and to pay tribute to how much he had meant to them in their lives. It was a beautiful thing, but it got me thinking--wouldn't it be great if we could do this while they were still alive. I think it's so important to let the ones we love know just how much they mean to us. So on that note, I'm going to do just that....
Tonight I will pay tribute to my beloved Auntie Me. I should have written about her 100 times by now as she is such an enormous part of my life. Let's start with the unusual name, Auntie "Me". Her name is actually Myrna but none of us kids could pronounce that when we were little and whatever we muttered sounded like the word "me". So, Auntie just announced one day that that would officially be known as "Auntie Me" from that day forward. That simple story is a perfect example of the selfless, humble person she has always been.
Growing up, Auntie Me was my most favorite aunt. (And I think she shared that title with all the kids in our family.) Auntie Me was known for her amazing story-telling. And I'm not talking about telling jokes or being the life of the party. When she would tuck me in at night, we did NOT pick out books to read!! She would sit on the side of my bed and ask me what kind of a story I wanted to hear. I would tell her I wanted there to be a nice girl, a cute boy, a mean girl and a scary element to the story. She would pause for 30 seconds and then voila--a perfect story would just flow from her lips including all the elements I had requested. And they were GOOD stories with twists and turns and surprises. I don't know how she did it every time. Her imagination was amazing. She truly could have written children's books for a living. I loved her stories and it was my most favorite thing in the world to be tucked in by her at night!
Well...come to think of it there was one book that Auntie Me read to me. It was the story of Snow White. She would get to the part where the evil queen says, "Mirror Mirror on the wall--who's the fairest of them all?" And the mirror would respond, "Why can't you see--it's AUNTIE ME!" I actually believed this was the authentic version of the story for years. When my mother would try to read me the story correctly, I would correct her saying, "No no--it's not Snow White Mama; it's AUNTIE ME!" Lol
Auntie was always fun and spontaneous. At Christmas time, she would tell my brother and I to pick out 1 gift from under the tree that we were really curious about. Then she would sneak it up to our room and carefully open it using her fingernails to break the tape and reveal what was inside. Afterwards she would return it to it's perfect condition and place it back under the tree. Nobody ever knew; we never got caught and it remained our little secret. :)
When I was a teenager, my father brought home a fancy Rolex Watch from one of his business trips as a special gift for me. (It wasn't a real Rolex but I believed wholeheartedly that it was and I wore it with pride) One day I accidentally dropped it in my friend's driveway and broke the face. I was in a total panic and worried sick about getting in big trouble with my parents. I called my Auntie Me and she had that watch repaired and back on my wrist within a day. She was always like that--she always had my back! She had everyone's back!!
Eating a meal at my Auntie Me's house is like dining at the finest restaurant in Italy. She makes the best Lemon chicken, Pasta with homemade Marinara and sausage, Antipasta Salad, and her own secret Italian Dressing recipe. Ugh! I'm telling you there is nothing like her cooking on this planet!! She is gifted in the kitchen and I have been a lucky recipient of that gift! :) One time she even started her own catering business with my mother!
As the years went by and I got older, my Aunt came to mean a great deal more to me. When I lost some friends, my Aunt reminded me constantly of my own self worth. When I made poor decisions and had to face those consequences, it was my aunt who basically rebuilt my self esteem from the ground up. She taught me the example of forgiveness. She taught me the example of not passing judgment on others. She taught me that everyone deserves a 2nd chance. She taught me not to live in fear. She counseled my husband and I through a rough patch and fought for a marriage which she believed was worth saving. She taught me that it's none of my business what other people think of me. She taught me what it means to be a Christian. She taught me what "real" friendship means and that it's okay to let go of the ones that aren't. I don't know where I would be today without her support and guidance.
My Aunt lives her life in service to others. I was reading a book recently called "Seven Ways to Peace and Happiness." The guidelines are pretty simple:
- You must try to think every day how you can please someone.
- It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow man who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.
- All that we demand of a human being, and the highest praise we can give him, is that he should be a good fellow worker, a friend to all other men, and a true partner in love and marriage.
- Why will doing a good deed every day produce such astounding effects on the doer? Because trying to please others will cause us to stop thinking of ourselves: the very thing that produces worry and fear and melancholia.
- Happiness is contagious. By giving, we receive. By helping someone and giving out love, we conquer worry and sorrow and self-pity, and feel like a new person.
- One third of patients are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their own lives. To put it another way they're trying to thumb a ride through life--and the parade passes them by. So they rush to a psychiatrist with their petty, senseless, useless lives. Having missed the boat, they stand on the wharf, blaming everyone except themselves and demanding that the world cater to their self-centered desires.
- Do you ever show an eager, honest interest in other people's lives? What's in it for you? Much greater happiness, greater satisfaction, and pride in yourself! Aristotle called this land of attitude "enlightened selfishness." Doing good to others is not a duty. It is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness. Benjamin Franklin summed it up very simply-- "when you are good to others you are best to yourself."
- A Chinese proverb puts it this way, "a bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses."
- Jesus said, "he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
- Forget yourself by becoming interested in others. Every day do a good deed that will put a smile of joy on someone's face.
And here's the amazing part...I know my Aunt hasn't read this book and yet I swear to God it's EXACTLY how she lives her life!! She could have written it. I do not know a more selfless, giving, humble human being. My Auntie Me is the closet thing to a Saint that I have ever encountered and I am blessed beyond words to have her in my life. I LOVE YOU AUNTIE ME!!!