My Aunt Erma celebrates an important birthday this weekend. I’ve been thinking about her and this special occasion, and I thought I would pay tribute to the life lessons I have learned from sharing family time with her. She is a strong woman in a family of strong women. I’m proud to say that when the women in our family have an idea in mind and a purpose to pursue, stand back. From her I learned:
- How to be authentic – You might not agree with my Aunt Erma’s opinions on any given matter, but you can be certain to know what they are. She never puts on airs or hides her true feelings behind a façade of false politeness. I admire her forthright approach to life and the authentic soul I see because of it.
- How to tell a tale – My aunt has had many stories published in the local paper, and she and her writing group—The Henscratchers—published a book. I appreciate her ability to capture life in a story or a poem.
- How to weather a storm – She has had more than her share of uncommon heartbreaking events in her life, the kind that knock you off your feet for more than a few days. I respect her strength and resiliency in bouncing back, picking herself up and carrying on.
- How to entertain a whole room – Give my Aunt Erma a guitar and some elbow room, and she’ll happily provide the songs for the night. She and her sisters (including my mother) have sung together at community events. I envy her enthusiastic ability to sing out without inhibition.
- How to teach with calm assurance – My aunt was the kind of teacher who kept order in the classroom and expected the best from her students. She’s petite, so her authority came from her manner, not her stature.
There’s a whole lot of power packed into a diminutive woman in my Aunt Erma. I would say that she’s like her mother in that regard (my grandmother), but I’m not sure she’d like that. . .
Like all strong women, she might ruffled some feathers over the years. More than one person might have shaken their head and said, “Oh, that Erma . . .”
If I can live authentically, inspire with calm assurance, weather life storms with strength, live to tell the tale and entertain a whole room with the songs of it, then I will be happy to ruffle a few feathers along my own way.