I received a letter this weekend from a dear friend of my parents'. She is around 70 years old and has had a difficult time with aging as of late. She sent along with the letter, a little Christmas craft that I will do next Christmas with my kids, and a portrait of herself at age 65. In the letter she thanked me for remembering her and for sending along photos of my kids every year. However, it was the way she worded her last sentence, that has me thinking about it since. "Thanks again sweet girl for honoring me with the gift of rememberance." The letter has brought forth a flood of emotions and memories of how she so influenced my life when I really needed it. If you've read this blog, you know I have Mother issues. I love my Mom, but we do not see eye to eye, and have not always gotten along particularly well. This friend came into my family's life when I was an early teen, awkward and unsure, not fitting into the mold my Mom thought of as a teen girl, and trying to find my way.
She taught me:
That garlic is essential in cooking anything Italian, and that there was such a thing as Italian cuisine, and to appreciate it.
To live and love with an enormous appetite.
That being a broad was just as good as being a lady.
That you can be an adult and still not be a morning person, and it's ok to get up, send people off to school and work, and go back to bed until noon. Someday I hope to do just that!
That Red wine should be enjoyed with heavy foods.
To appreciate and come to adore Neil Diamond, especially "Forever in Blue Jeans".
That every Christmas is an occasion to remember.
That being a mom, did not mean denying yourself passions of the flesh - They had a framed saying in their living room, "God made man from string. He had a little left, so he left a little thing. God made woman from lace, he didn't have enough, so he left a little space. Thank God!"
She brought my Sister and I ornaments every year, and these are still some of my cherished decorations. She also introduced me to Father Nature's in Danville, where I still go, but I only invite people who are important to my life, because to me, this is the place to bring people to show them how important they are to you.
The one memory that has had my blubbering all weekend (PMS, perhaps?) is one she likely does not even know about. My Sister and I were staying the weekend at their home, and we'd gone to bed while waiting for our parents to arrive. When they did, I was still awake, but pretended to be asleep, and I overheard their conversation, when (as parents always do), my folks asked how we behaved, and she replied that I was very patient an generous with my little sister, and she remarked how exceptional that was. The example she brought up was something I had not even given a second thought. That someone had noticed the good in me, and that it was so much a part of who I was, even at that horrible age, was eye opening, and made me understand the need to be kind, and that even when my parents didn't notice, other people did. It is the reason I go out of my way to tell parents how well behaved their children are, and try to make sure to point out their good points and specific examples, while the kid is in earshot.
I need to thank her for all of the gifts she has given me.