The auntie thing…

As my nephew and I sat on the back deck drinking beer, watching the trees, and discussing the state of the world, I remembered my relationship with Aunt Mabel, when I was his age – mid twenties.

We’ve lived nearby since he was a little boy.  He spent a lot of time over the years on our shady front porch, painting pictures, or watching the birds. I too grew up with the experience of regular visits from my aunt, who would always spend  one on one time with me, talking about any subject under the sun – no holds barred.

She didn’t bring me story books about fairy princesses; she brought unusual things – like a book about “Indian Corn”*.   She gave me the experience of respect; of valuing my curiosity and interest – when I was widely considered ‘dumb’.   She introduced me to “alternative” everything: religions, health theories, even yoga before most people had heard of it.  She was an explorer.  I believe that’s why I am too.

Interesting thing, that.  The impact of different adults on us.  But she was outnumbered in my life.  Far too long,  due to my father’s dominant influence, I cared about other peoples’ opinions more than I should.  So, for instance, when she married late in life  a southern gentleman who was a racist, I distanced myself from her in a fit of  embarrassment and intellectual snobbery.  She eventually moved far away, and I had virtually no relationship to her for many years.

Before she died, I visited her.  One day I told her how much she had meant in my young life.  Suddenly I saw in her eyes, in her face, the deep hurt I had caused her, the loss it had been for her.  For the first time really, it wasn’t about me.  And as with all histories, there was nothing I could do to erase it.

I have a number of regrets like this.  The thing about regrets is that they are useless – a waste of energy – unless we can find a way to turn them into something positive.  It’s like basic arithmetic, in a way: perhaps it will take two or three positive contributions to the world, to take away my negative acts.  I’m working on it.


This entry was posted in aunties, awareness, experience, Insight, Memories, reflections, relationships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The auntie thing…

  1. john zande says:

    I don’t see your actions as hurtful, rather a positive statement of your values.

  2. It would have been different perhaps if I had actually told her how I felt – shared my values. In effect, I waltzed off in a self-righteous, moralistic huff leaving her to wonder what happened. I owed her better than that. The me of today would explain my preference to spend no time with a racist, for example. She was many things besides ‘wife of racist’, and I lost sight of that until later 🙂

  3. Marie-Joelle Auclair says:

    I understand what you mean – you can disagree with the action without rejecting the person. But I can easily identify with what you describe: I remember seeing things in black and white, and being blissfully ignorant of other people’s feelings (especially older members of my family). So we all have regrets. I think that writing about it like you did is a positive contribution.

    • D’accord! And it seems to be a theme of mine in this life: learning from my regrets…. 🙂 Making something positive out of it seems to almost partially erase the worst of it…

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