The cell phone beeped at 2:30 a.m. and without looking at the screen I knew the content of the message—my Aunt Syl had passed away. She was admitted to Hospice and even though we knew the time was near, her actual passing left me feeling incredibly sad. For the next hour I lay in bed thinking about times spent as a family and realizing I would never again see her smile, hear her voice or share a story or a laugh. And not only was I sad about the loss of my aunt, I was also missing her two sisters that had passed away years before.
My father had three older sisters and I was very fortunate to have these incredible women as my aunts. Three women who, though different in some ways, were alike in the ways that mattered most. They were a part of my safety net—the circle of woman in my life who influenced who I am today.
As a child I do not think I realized the tremendous gift I had in these strong, generous and playful women. My Aunt Syl—playfully known as Aunt Silly—was always good for a laugh. Her smile brightened up a room and her laugh (with a snort) was just contagious. Aunt Ruthie called each of us sweetheart—her gift was taking the time to know what was happening in each of our lives. She supported what was best in us and loved us for who we were. Aunt Ginny was practical and down to earth. She was never afraid to speak her mind or “tell the truth.” And if you were lucky enough to be loved by her—you knew she had your back.
My three aunts were incredible role models who showed me how to be loving and self-assured. They lived life on their terms and to the fullest. Their example and support helped me create the confidence I needed to step into my life. And for that I will always be grateful.
As I give thanks for my aunts it seems to me that the best way I can honor them is to “pay it forward.” To intentionally seek opportunities to be a role model and safety net to the next generation. And maybe you can do the same?
Our children are exposed to an array of “influencers” and they are bombarded by constant noise from computers, ipods, ipads and cell phones. So it seems to me that it is imperative that we make sure our actions are seen and our voices are heard. We need to elevate our involvement with our children so that they see us as their safety net. We can not assume that our children are paying attention and “picking up” on our words and actions. We need to go out of our way to show them what is important.
I was definitely one of the lucky ones. And I can draw from what I received in order to be “a net” for others—to pay it forward to the next generation. What will you chose to pay forward?