When Shaun and I were in that first “getting to know you” stage, the person he talked about most reverently was his Aunt Lynne. She was his mother’s sister and lived right next door to them. According to Shaun, Aunt Lynne was the most one who had the biggest impact on his life.
She wasn’t the typical cuddly, cookie baking, you-can-tell-me-anything, have fun with type of aunt. No…she gave them a much bigger gift then that. Aunt Lynne gave Shaun and his sisters the gift of curiosity. She nurtured their interests, brought them books, taught them independence and encouraged them to think for themselves. To hear Shaun and his sisters talk about this woman, I got the feeling she was nearly ready for sainthood.
About a year after we were married, Shaun couldn’t stand it another minute. He wanted me to meet this person that was so important in his life. We hopped in the car and started driving to Taos, New Mexico where Aunt Lynne had moved to right after college as it was as far as she could get from her midwestern upbringing. Along the way, Shaun shared fascinating stories of where he grew up. He told me of the amazingly blue sky, the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the Gorge and the people. The proud Spaniards that had lived there for generations, the Pueblo dwellers, the hippies that came searching, and the colorful art community. Taos was a place where everyone would find a welcome.
Everyone with the possible exception of me. Quite frankly, I was terrified to meet this woman. When Shaun asked me to stay in the car so that he could go surprise his aunt with our unexpected arrival, I was more than willing to wait and people watch. For some reason, I became fascinated by one colorful woman in particular.
I think it was her bright orange slacks that first attracted my attention. Or it could have been her matching orange, pink and brown shirt that enveloped her. Her long gray hair was braided all the way down her back with wisps escaping all around her face. Her feet were encased in multicolored moccasins and she was picking through the town’s trash cans.
Imagine my surprise when Shaun suddenly went running over to her, joyfully crying out “Aunt Lynne! Aunt Lynne!” before engulfing her in his arms. I sat there in shock. This disheveled homeless woman was the sainted and very dignified Aunt Lynne?
It turned out that all my worries were for naught. Aunt Lynne was one of the warmest, down to earth people that you can ever imagine. She was one of the first “green” people. She had been digging through the garbage to recycle aluminum cans. The thought of dumping them in the land fills was horrible to her. As for the brightly colored clothing…well…she just liked them.
Nobody could ever deny that Aunt Lynne was a very strange woman. She chose to live alone in a lovingly maintained ancient adobe once used as the holy home of Los Hermanos Penitentes, which she filled with many dogs and cats. The best thing about Aunt Lynne was that she was always true to herself. She did what she felt was right and always tried to empower others. She was one of the few people that truly didn’t care what others thought about her.
The day that Aunt Lynne died was truly tragic. Our girls will never really know what a wonderful and colorful person she was. I’m really glad I was able to get to know her…
For reasons beyond me, I agreed to join Linda on a new blogging adventure that she is calling Tuesday Tributes. (Personally I think they should be moved to Thursday, but that’s just me…)
Linda says: It seems to me, that all of us have the privilege of knowing a few extraordinary individuals. Some are outrageous characters, some are incorrigible scoundrels, some are ordinary people, but all have the ability to elicit in us a strong emotion, either with their gifts… or lack of gifts, or by their quirky or different slant on life. It also seems to me that we are ripping off the rest of the human race by not sharing these characters, at least a description of them, with others.
As there are only a couple of us joining in on this new venture so far (that means you can join in too!) I think it would be noticed if I blew this off. So I had to put on my thinking cap and really think about some of the extraordinary people I have met along the way. This was my first offering…