There are so many people in my life that have strengthened me, encouraged me, supported me, and loved me through this thing we call life. Today I would like to take a brief moment to share a few memories I have from one of these extraordinary influences. My Aunt Susie, who today turns a year old, has been a huge figure in my life. As I child I often heard “has anyone told you how much you look like your Aunt Susie?” I am not sure there is anything I could have been told that would have equaled the smile that statement gave me, and still does. To be compared to a woman of not only outward beauty but also unmatched inward beauty, there is no greater compliment.
My aunt has weather the storms of life with amazing grace, astonishing dignity, and remarkable courage. So I sit here, in the midst of reflecting on years of stories, selecting the most memorable to share with you, and hoping beyond all hope, that one day my character can also be compared to that of such an outstanding woman.
I have more stories and memories to share than there is time in a year. As I think of how to narrow them all down in order for this post to not take you 8 hours to read, two thoughts keep coming to mind, travel and Fairview. It goes to show that no matter the place, Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Chicago, D.C., or little ol’ Fairview as long as I am spending time with my aunt I am happy and memories are being made.
It was 1996 when I found my passion for snow skiing. Aunt Susie, Uncle Erland, and Mark came out to Oregon and took us snow skiing for my 17th birthday, and a new love was born. We had a great time, going through the routine of renting all the ski gear, taking lessons, riding up the ski lift (we won’t go into the adventure mother caused by trying to get off the ski lift without lessons, that story is for a different day), and taking the bunny runs. How time has changed things, now it is simply Chad and I that venture to the slopes with our own ski gear mastering black diamond runs. But it was on that February day back in 1996 that my brother and I both fell in love with the art and sport of snow skiing. Chad has since taken up snowboarding and put skiing behind him. But I am here to tell you, if it were not for an aunt that thought outside the box and took our family on this adventure I would have never locked my foot into a ski and my world would not be rotating in orbit.
Some of my most memorable moments with my aunt, did not seem so memorable at the time. Like a car ride to Enid one sunny Saturday afternoon a few years ago. When my aunt chose to take the time to provide her unsolicited advice regarding a relationship I was in. Now I knew no one in my family liked the guy I was dating, and I think my aunt liked him the least. While with my aunt, I really tried to steer clear of topics that would even remotely make her think of him and as a result cause her to slip on her protective birches. There was no getting around this one; I was trapped in a car with an elementary school age child in the back seat and a hot protective aunt in the driver’s seat. I mention my cousin Maggie for one reason and one reason only; I really thought her being along for the ride would sensor my aunt’s rant but no such luck. I will not go into all the juicy details, those are not important to this story, nor do I really want to think too much more about that part of my life. The important message is that if we have an open heart and an open mind to listen to those who care about us more than we care about ourselves, we are bound to gain incomparable wisdom. What us young whipper snappers (I talk like I am not going to be 31 tomorrow) don’t always put into consideration is that the adults in our lives have walked in our shoes, trudged through the same ruts in life, weathered many more storms, and come out on the other side with much more experience and knowledge than what we have at the time. I remember my aunt asking me if I thought he was the one, and my response will be one that is forever etched in my mind “no I don’t think he is the one, but he is the one for right now”. That relationship ended not too long after this infamous drive, and I told myself I will never again date someone for the right now, if I don’t see potential for him being the final someone. See even the most uncomfortable memories have the potential of leaving a lasting memory in your heart.
I could go on and on sharing memories, stories, and lessons my aunt and I share. But I will stop with those two for now.
My prayer is that you all have a person in your life that will be a life-long influence, mentor, support, and constant source of insight, guidance, and love.
Happy Birthday Aunt Susie, I love you more everyday!!