Laid to rest today is the shell of my beloved Aunt and mentor. I had to set aside time and space not to grieve her, for she lived the life she wanted to live on her own terms. But to honor her memory and reflect on the knowledge and wisdom she so readily shared.
She taught me in both word and deed to be your own best advocate. It's great to have a support group, but no one will ever have a greater vested interest in you THAN you. I learned that manners will take you farther than education, or in many cases even money. She taught me it's OK to walk around with a suite of armor. The world can be a cold cruel place. Protect yourself, just don't allow your heart to be hardened. Also, it's okay to mess up. Nobody is perfect. Just don't stay in a mess. Learn from it and move on. One of the most important lessons I obtained is that secrets can destroy you from the inside out. Don't hold on to secrects. There is a difference between keeping people out of your business and living a life of secrecy. One is OK the other is not.
She and I have often been referred to by family members as steel magnolias. A trait she and I obtained from her mother/my grandmother. And for years we kept magnolias growing in our flower beds. Magnolias that had been started from the flowers that grew in my grandma's yard. It was symbolic, a reminder of who we are. And a tribute to the matriarch who influenced us.
As I sit here and share, all I can do is smile. There are few tears to shed for a life that chose to find and fulfill it's purpose. Rather it is to be celebrated. Sure I'll miss the her, conversation and advice. I'll miss the nods of approval and her correction. But I will spirituality tune in for guidance to the same Spirit that made us kindred in the first place.
I willing accept the mantle that has been passed on to me. The mantle that comes with great responsibility. I will be that strong woman who lives with boldness and kindness. A woman who is hard and soft. One who is afraid...but bold enough to do what is needed even when I am afraid.
Cheers to a life well lived Auntie. Until we see each other again. Rest easy 💕