"People don't remember what you do or say, but they always remember how you make them feel." -Maya Angelou
This beautiful quote captures may aunt's spirit, her essence. It occurred to me that everyone who knew Aunt Marie has the opportunity to carry her light forward. So as I reflected on that for myself, three themes came up: Kindness, gratitude and generosity. I'll break the "why's" of this down:
Kindness: Aunt Marie's was heartfelt, the inside-out kind that comes from an inner joy. I could always feel it, which is likely why people were drawn to linger in her presence.
It was also non-discriminating.
I remember the time my husband and I visited her over dinner at the senior living community she resided in. Staff and residents alike volunteered cheerful expressions of their appreciation for her. No wonder, her sweet smile illuminated social occasions. Likewise, I visited her a few years earlier at a hospital and on the day of her discharge to a step-down facility, several caregivers and her room-mate commented about what a joy she was. Their "loss" was palpable as she departed.
Most people leave footprints. Aunt Marie left heartprints.
Gratitude: My aunt expressed gratitude for everything in her life, down to the smallest things. She saw challenges as opportunities and welcomed them as ways to grow. Her life's accomplishments were testament to this.
Generosity: This was a quality that "runneth over" in so many ways. Perhaps most poignantly, through generosity of thought. Like giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If someone was being difficult, rather than judge them and react with more of the same, she'd stop to consider how maybe life was landing hard for them. Even while she had her own challenges. And she'd wish them well.
These are just a few gifts I'm grateful for, and intend to carry forward.
During this holiday season, may we remember the people and connections in our lives that really matter. Soak in the goodness of that, and consider what your experience might be like if everyone rippled that out...
By the way, this reflection wouldn't be complete without mentioning Aunt Marie's famous mile high chocolate chip cookies etched in memory from childhood. I really hope a family member has that recipe in the archives - a keeper, for sure, guaranteed to reciprocate her sweet smile.
Light, joy & peace,