Thursday, April 14, 2016
366 Project - Day 105 - "Abstract (Aunt Pat)"
April 14, 2016 - "Abstract (Aunt Pat)"
Today would have been my Aunt Pat's 67th birthday... and this weekend will mark twenty years since her passing. (She died two days after her 47th birthday)
Of all of my relatives, Aunt Pat was the one I was closest to. She was one of the most loving, giving and, well, "funniest" people you could ever hope to meet. She never married... never had children of her own - yet she was always the one who took care of everybody else. Most of her life was spent taking care of other people... often at the expense of her own dreams.
When I was in my late teens I would spend many weekends at her house. She and I would sit up until three or four in the morning... just sitting at the kitchen table, talking and drinking coffee while playing cards or a dice game called "10,000". The conversations we'd have were among the most important conversations I've ever had in my life. We'd talk about the basics, of course - family, relationships, and sometimes religion - but often the conversations went much, much deeper. We'd talk about life... about our dreams... about our emotions.
There... that's it. That's the key thing: We'd talk about our "emotions".
Aunt Pat was the only person I ever could truly open up to. She was the only one I could really talk to about my emotions... and about what was "really going on" in my life. I told her things that I never told anyone else... and she'd do the same in return. I can honestly say that on more than one occasion she literally saved my life with a late-night conversation and some coffee.
Not too many people knew it - but she was a writer... as was I. She'd read me her poetry, and I'd read her mine. She'd let me read chapters of a book she was writing that was based on her life... and she'd talk about how she wanted to have something published someday.
We shared our dreams. I remember one night she said to me "Vinny, I'm (mumbles-while-wiping-her-hand-across-her-mouth) years old and I've never seen the Statue of Liberty! I've lived an hour away from it my entire life and I've never seen it!"
She had seen it from the highway... seen it from a distance - but that's about it. So, we promised that we'd go together. It was never able to happen.
She'd tell me how someday - when she no longer had to worry about taking care of anyone - she was going to buy an Airstream travel trailer and just start going to see all of the places she had always wanted to see... and how she would write about it along the way. That's it. That was her big goal in life - to get an Airstream and be able to travel and see things and write. Well, that's what she'd say it was, anyway. In the early morning hours while flipping cards on the table, it easily became obvious that what she was really saying was that her dream was "to finally be free".
I inherited a lot from my Aunt Pat. I'm not talking about money or objects or anything like that... I'm talking about aspects of who I have become as a person. She inspired me in many ways.
Some ways are quite obvious and visible, like my need to collect things. She was big collector of everything from music boxes to Ron Lee clown figurines. That's where today's photo fits in... it's an abstract shot of one of the metal flowers on one of the hundred or so music boxes she owned.
Other ways that she has inspired and shaped who I am might not be so obvious, like how I tend to feel and express things. She had a certain way of feeling things and dealing with things that was so different from anyone else I ever knew. She helped me learn how to deal with my own feelings... and how to express them. In a way, it's because of her that I write what I write and express what I express. If it hadn't been for her encouragement over two decades ago, I'd probably still keep everything bundled inside for fear of being rejected and ridiculed.
Now, here I am about to be (mumbles-while-wiping-his-hand-across-his-mouth) years old... and I still haven't been to see the Statue of Liberty. I think it's time to change that.
Aunt Pat - you don't know how many nights I sit up wishing you were here, sitting across from me, talking me through things. You don't know how often I find myself needing you. Then again... perhaps you do know. I like to think that you're watching... as you fly above, finally free.
Happy Birthday, Aunt Pat!
I love you!
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