Monday morning I lost my aunt Nan. She was a complex and wonderful person. She embraced life and traveled extensively to learn about the world. She was caring but not sacrificial. She took her role as an aunt seriously, cultivating her craft and honing her skill.
In grade school she would invite me and my brother over separately to her house for sleepovers. That small act felt very special. Her kitchen had all sorts of exotic foods that my parents never bought: almond milk, tofu, chai tea, swiss chard. We ate Indian food and she asked me questions and really listened. At my own home I took a bath with my brother all the time. At Nan’s house I got my own bath and if I asked she would even turn the heated tiles on so I didn’t get cold when I got out. Mind blowing luxury for a grade schooler.
In middle school Nan volunteered to take my friends and I to see Hanson. We were so excited and probably spent several hours straight screaming at the top of our lungs. She brought ear plugs, danced with us, and drove us home. She even claimed to have a good time.
Throughout high school and college Nan was an important “non-parent adult,” providing counsel, giving advice, and taking a long walk for me to vent about whatever was stressing me out. She welcomed my new friends (and boyfriend) with open arms. As I was going through the fits and starts of young adulthood she was there to listen. Sometimes a note would pop up in the mail with her handwriting and I knew it would contain something comforting and wise.
In the past few years, she has been an incredible cheerleader. Cheering me on in asking for a raise. Cheering me up through a difficult break-up. Throwing a metaphorical parade when I quit my job to travel. She treated me like an independent decision maker as a kid and now that I’m adult she openly accepted me as an equal. That kind of smooth transition takes great inner strength, emotional intelligence, and a firmly rooted sense of self. Nan had all of those in spades.
We’ll miss you.