Twenty-nine years ago this summer I was decorating my first apartment. Hamilton and I were engaged and we added an apartment above his shop for our first home. We lived there for nine years, it was rent-free which allowed me to finish school and stay home with my babies. We only needed one car because Hamilton just walked downstairs to work. After we moved to town the apartment was continuously occupied by family members, friends and employees, giving them a rent-free space to live. Now we are back on the farm and want to use the apartment as office and guest space but the interior is pretty tired so I’m in the process of renovating.
As I am back in the space for the first time in 20 years memories of that time of my life have come flooding back, almost like watching a movie. As I started to take down the 80’s wallpaper I thought of Aunt Julie. Hamilton’s cousin Tony built the apartment and his Aunt Julie offered to teach me to wallpaper the bathroom. I was so excited to make my little place as cute as possible.
Over the years I would periodically call Aunt Julie. There were many times I needed her gentle support. As in most families, I have a couple of close relatives who can be very difficult. Aunt Julie was the one person who really understood. We never talked badly about anyone but I knew she knew what I was going through. I just needed to be reassured that although there was nothing that could be done someone saw me.
Around this same time I was student teaching. I had a very difficult supervising teacher who was not allowed another student teacher after me. Those were hard days, I came home to my only friend, General Hospital on the VCR. Every day I would take a few students to a reading specialist named Karen. She was always kind and went out of her way to speak to me. We never spoke of my difficult teacher but once again I knew that she knew. Yet again someone saw me. That was all I needed to soldier on.
I’m so glad to have these memories of kind women who helped a young twentysomething negotiate tough interpersonal relationships, not by advice but by just simply being there. I hope that I have passed on this kindness to someone else. Please thank a friend or relative that has done that for you. Aunt Julie has passed on but this week I’m remembering to say a prayer for her and her sweet kindness.
1980’s wallpaper on the way to the trash