Today is my Aunt's Birthday. Oh, how I wish I was with her to celebrate such a fantastic day. Instead, I wish her the happiest of birthdays from the east coast, thinking of her daily with love and warmth.
She is magnifique, extraordinary, marvelously opinionated, just fabulously chic, funny, and I mean funny, smart as a whip, and a classic beauty. Someone I have always looked up to, and at the same time feared -- just a smidge. But, I think that is to be expected when you hold someone in such high esteem. She has never waivered in my eyes. Not once.
My Aunt 1950's.
She may have my head for using this photo, but this is what I have here.
And on a daily basis I think of my Aunt. I think of the life she has lead - the life that took many turns from Bordeaux all the way to Waxahachie, Texas. I'm sure she never imagined as a young girl in France that she would end up one day on a ranch in Texas married to an all American Cowboy. But I think most of us never envisioned the place or the people that we ultimately end up settling down with. We just don't. We can't. Life has too many twists and turns to map out in a linear fashion and then adhere to.
I was on a plane the other day and I remembered a flight my Aunt and I took - I can't remember where, but there was horrible turbulence; of course I started to panic a bit - she took my hand, and she laughed -- that great laugh that has a little bit of co-conspirator but also says "Oh, come on!" "Enough!" "All will be fine", and at the same time the laugh is filled with sympathy. I love that laugh. Just love it.
Whenever she calls and leaves a message, I save the message. If and when I am feeling blue I know I can always re-play the message. The way she says my name in that sing song manner she has, with the accent on the é, always, always warms my heart.
My Aunt has shown me strength, ethics, standing your ground (and watching her do it with elegance) and continued that no nonsense (or is it the no patience) familiar French way of looking at life.
She has cheered me on, laughed with me, and there's something to be said for someone who has experienced the life she has - a witness to the atrocities of WW2, to navigating a move to a rural farm town in the United States - a far cry from her privileged upbringing and creature comforts. But she persevered. She created a mini-Bordeaux in the Baptist fueled dry town, tongue waggers be damned. I think most would have high tailed it right out of there and back to France to be swaddled it their Chanel and red wine. Not my Aunt.
After instilling her mini Bordeaux she set about creating a life, raising two children and somehow never losing herself or her identity in the process. Not many Mothers or Wives can say that. And I Imagine hardly any at all from my Aunt's generation.
My Aunt is a woman of courage and great strength, something I don't see much in my generation or the generations after me.Which to me is quite sad. And it's not to say that her life has been smooth sailing; but it's the WAY she sails it (lipstick always on!) that makes her so damn inspirational.
When her sister passed away so many many years ago, my Aunt inherited three additional children, whether she like it or wanted it. She didn't have a choice as far as we, the motherless (albeit, adult) children were concerned.
In total, she has five children and three grandchildren. I'm sure something she never envisioned.
So, to my Aunt, my love, I wish you the happiest of birthdays. This song is for you:
(In my dreams this is Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg all singing at once to you -with a dash of Johnny Hallyday to add some edge!)
Happy, Happy Birthday!