Friday, January 15, 2010

All about Aunts

Aunts: Minnie, Carrie and Luanne (with mother Jessie)

ALL ABOUT AUNTS? Not really…there is little possibility of writing all about aunts…just too much to be said.

Even so, I’ve been thinking “way hard” about Aunt Carrie lately. Such thoughts are always pleasant and were enhanced by a conversation with Aunt Luanne. I could not help but be reminded of what pleasant voices are a part of my Aunts’ acquaintance. Aunt Luanne doesn’t sound a day over thirty; Aunt Minnie had a soft husky voice, a voice with a smile inside; Aunt Carrie sounded like, well, Aunt Carrie. She seemed to have an accent all her own, or perhaps it was her laughter that so distinguished her. I do wish I could sit in a circle and hear them each talk again.

But back to Aunt Carrie: she used to send me mail. Her letters revealed her intelligence, creativity, sensitivity and concern for others. One time she wrote in the margin of a postcard, “You have your mother’s hands.” That seemed such a kind and comforting thought to me (and I hope to her). Aunt Carrie, she had very gifted hands … such as run in Miller/Minney bloodstream for both boys and girls. Like others of her generation she could not allow those hands to sit idle long, if ever. What a lovely world of embroidery, crocheting and quilting she turned out. In fair weather she set her hands to tending flowers and gardening. Everything beautiful engaged her eye and heart; became integrated into her daily patterns. Part of that claimed beauty was a very neat house. White-bright linens, shiny floors and clean sinks made hers a space to savor. I often recall the rented cottage at the Shock-Tanner junction – flowers by the porch and a new quilt in the frame; and the Miller homestead closet where her ironed linens awaited use. Aunt Carrie would never have judged her life to be exceptional; but what an extraordinary example and heritage she’s left us. So tell me, can you think of Aunt Carrie and not smile in your heart. No, I didn’t think so.

Now Aunt Luanne is reading this with a hearty amen, without thought of what might be said of her. She would not likely tell you her hands are likewise gifted … as she hasn’t a penchant for needlework that I’m aware of. But oh, she does have gifted hands … hands that have prepared countless Sunday dinners for her family; hands that have written tender words to brothers and other kin – words that bind a family many times over; hands that teach and nurture children (so many over the years) at school, at church, at home; hands that fold in prayer for all the souls she holds so dear. Nor are her hands ever idle. How do I know? Because recently when instructed to get some bed rest she complied about 12 hours and then her hands just had to do something useful – not grandiose – just a simple task like opening cans to make a bit of bean salad.

And another thing…I do not recall every hearing Aunt Luanne’s sweet voice complain about a single solitary thing even when facing some pretty stiff challenges. But yesterday I heard her voice wistfully speak of missing the work her hands would find to do were she but able. Well, she’s shown the way for others to share in her stead and her smiles would spur anyone along that good path.

Hands and voices, smiles and laughter linger still and speak volumes. I hope my heart is listening.