My great-aunt Ethel gave me a lot of things, the most important of which was the knowledge that, to her, I was the most special little girl in the whole world. In those long-ago educational psychology classes I took in college, we talked a lot about how whether or not children have a sense of stability in life, a belief that they are loved, determines so much of their path as adults. Ethel did more than her fair share of founding a strong self-image for me.
A childless woman, she somehow knew how to spend hours of quality time with a young girl. Now, that quality time often involved shopping, which I was all for. From the fancy dress with the bells sown into the petticoat she bought me as a preschooler to the rabbit fur coat I just had to have to keep up with the 5th-grade competition, Ethel was the one who made sure I was well-dressed. But even better, she fed me butter-pecan ice cream while I sat at her antique white wicker table in her seemingly always-sunny Texas kitchen.
She taught me about devotion, too. Not only through her devotion to me, but also through her undying commitment to taking care of her husband, forced into a nursing home by a stroke. She took me along on her daily visits whenever we were in town.
As I grew older, I also learned that Ethel was a force to be reckoned with on the etiquette front. I knew better than to not send a prompt thank you note for the gifts I received, and I also knew that when I got married, I’d better have my engagement announcement in the paper at least six weeks in advance. We wouldn’t want to give rise to any rumors, would we?
Unfortunately, Ethel wouldn’t live to know that I followed all the rules–during the wedding planning, my mother and I would often pause and say, “You know, Ethel would be proud of us for this!” Cancer took her quickly four years prior to the day when Adventure Guy and I tied the knot. But, she was far from absent.
When I moved to my new home, created my own family, I took along with me two things to serve as a constant reminder of Ethel and her love for me–her silver flatware and her antique secretary. And those, among all the clutter and the endless collection of things that seem so important at the moment of purchase, are what I’d have to save after I was sure that my family and the photographic history of our lives were intact.
My Favorite Thing – post a picture of an object or objects (we know that your children are your most valued whatevers, but we’re going OBJECTS here. Books, art, photos, mementos, shoes, garden gnomes, television set, whatever) that is/are dear to your heart. What would you grab if your house were one fire? What would you fire your partner for breaking/losing/defacing/disrespecting?
Feel free to join in and publish a post on this theme. All you are asked to do is copy the list of participants and add it to the bottom of your post — and don’t forget to add yourself!
For more posts on the “My Favorite Thing…” theme, click these…
Her Bad Mother
Girls Gone Child
Breed Em And Weep
Oh The Joys
Somewhere In The Suburbs