Saturday, my Aunt Arnelle will be 90 years old. Talk about a life well lived…
A happy marriage, five great children, loved by everybody in her community, never met a stranger… made friends with everyone she ever sat beside.
She was the one everybody said I looked most like when I was growing up. And she played a special role in my life…I knew she believed in me. I wanted to be like her, to be that outgoing, to have charisma and confidence, to create a happy home like she did, to see the world as full of beautiful potential like she did, to approach people with unfailing warmth and grace and have it be returned like she did.
I loved going to spend a week or two with my cousin Sandy, she and I were very close…it didn’t hurt that her mother was Aunt Arnelle.
Joyce and I visited Aunt Arnelle in May on our way to San Francisco. It was the first time I had seen her in a couple of years.
Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. It’s starting to take a bit of a toll on my dear aunt, but we had a lovely visit. I loved sitting next to her, holding her hand and just looking at her. She was as happy to see me as she ever was and I just felt…wholly embraced.
Her second son who lives nearby came over to join us. Sam is a few years older than me, and he was the cousin I had a crush on when I was young. I thought he was the essence of cool…along with being a very warm-hearted, genuinely nice person, which was something I noticed I didn’t often find in the “cool” people I knew. Since then, Sam has never disappointed me and I count him among my favorite people in the whole world.
I’m quite sure Sam and Aunt Arnelle had a special bond. He was the child she has lived closest to all her life. On a visit with Aunt Arnelle a few years ago, she showed me a letter Sam had written her. It meant so much to her and I was so touched by it, I took home a copy. Here’s a little excerpt that will show you what I mean about Sam:
“I want you to know and feel the love that you have given and shared with so many people in this world. When I talk to people and your name is brought into the conversation, there is nothing but love and admiration said about you. You are one in a million. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has nothing but good to say about you. Our whole family is so blessed to have you in our lives.”
That letter is a testament to both Sam and Aunt Arnelle. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” What goes around comes around. Imagine if every mother got that kind of letter from her son. Imagine if every mother deserved such a letter.
There aren’t enough Aunt Arnelles, are there?
It is my blessing that I get to have one.