Labor Day is always bittersweet, as we are turning the corner on summer into autumn. At North Country latitudes, daylight hours are noticeably skittish this time of year. (It’s doggone near-dark at 7:45 p.m.) Evenings cool dramatically and most mornings are slow to warm. I know it’s only early September but something deep in me begins to brace, turning to face the long, cold winter ahead.
But this Labor Day was refreshingly different. In a word, it was a gift. I didn’t give a single thought to the winter ahead — not one! I relished the toasty-warm weather — hot flashes be d@mned and turn up the AC! I took a few days off to spend time with my family and extended family. I did nothing by routine and everything by opportunity. No regrets.
My sister, my cousin and I had a ball out and about in the No Co. But I must admit that the very best part of the past week was spending quality time with my Aunt Bea. If you know me, then you know about my aunt. I will be forever grateful for her influence on me and my family. Time together is always sweet and always too short.
I don’t know anyone who has maintained a more genuinely contented outlook — despite the circumstances and this is key. I have no doubt that this is what draws so many people to my aunt: she is as happy as can be! She is quick to make an impact, wherever or whomever. She doesn’t wait for things to change. She doesn’t need someone to make her feel good about herself. She is always the first to embrace, welcome and affirm. She is outwardly focused and intentional in service to her family, church and community and has a lot of fun while she’s at it. I can learn a lot from her example.
My cousin, Sally, said it best: “Mom, you’ve always been content.” It’s true. My aunt has had her share of suffering and struggles but she doesn’t linger in that space. I believe her secret is in trusting fully in God — for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is good. It’s all good. Every cloud on Aunt Bea’s horizon does have a silver lining yet she is not particularly focused on the clouds.
“I’m almost 81, you know!” my aunt has reminded us for the past 10 months. It has always been this way — no matter her age she reminds us repeatedly of how old she is going to be. But it has also always been the case that her age doesn’t matter. Nothing can stop her from fulfilling her destiny.
Our youngest grandchild and my mom’s ninth great-grandchild was Aunt Bea’s first namesake. Anna Beatrice was born one day in advance of my aunt’s 80th birthday in late October last year. This week we held an impromptu surprise party for the bee-some: Queen Bee, Baby Bee and Mama Beekeeper. What a year we’ve all had! What joy for our Beas to finally meet! Sweetness complete. It was extra special that two of my aunt’s three siblings (my mom and her older brother) could join the celebration.
When I was a very young child I knew beyond doubt that my Aunt Bea loved God with all of her heart. I also knew she loved and cared for me. Eventually, I understood that I was part of her destiny. Better yet, my family became part of her destiny. What a legacy. I only hope we do her proud.
~ René Morley