Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Auntie Jaquie

Filed in Stories, voices :: March 15, 2012

Sometimes a piece of writing exemplifies the beauty it describes.

This post by Illuminary is that kind of writing, part of a series called Nest-Making, in honor of women and Women’s History Month.

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Anyone who tells you that you are shaped and fashioned by those who love you, only has half of it. I am here to tell you, the other half is “we are shaped and fashioned by those who love us, and those we chose to love.”

My odds bodkins collection of women friends are as different as each star. They have so little in common that someone once made the comment to me that they should very much like to come to my wake, just to see how the nun, the topless dancer, the farmer and the witch got on.

I can trace each of the women that have come into my life and stayed, back to one woman. She is my mom’s best friend, my Auntie Jaquie.

Jaquie was the first adult in my memory who accepted me.  She didn’t care if I was odd, different or in any way not like everyone else. She allowed me into her home from a young age, and always accorded me the respect that adults only seemed to give each other. She had this house, a little doll house, that was filled with the most amazing art. Her yard was a painter’s dream, with gardens everywhere and flowers always blooming in profusion. I can still remember my childhood fascination with her eclectic collection of  “stuff.”

I remember once asking her why she had so many different things. Why the snakes? Why the giant cactus looking thing and the funky chairs and stained glass? Her answer was simple “Why not?”  She liked things of beauty.

Her love of the beautiful was also, I would find out later, her bane.

I cannot recall how old I was when I began to notice her sadness and her anger, just buried beneath her surface. She always had a hug for me, and my mother if we were together, always full of laughter, wit and licentious sarcasm. I know that I asked my mother why we rarely if ever saw her husband. My mom would roll her eyes, and tell me she would explain it to me when I was “older.” When I was older, she simply said “he didn’t like us visiting.”

At some point in my life I came to realize that although he was a beautiful man, and still is, the beauty of him is only on the outside.

Why she has stayed with him all these years are her reasons, and I have not asked why. I believe it is her choice, and I don’t need to question it.

Her Choice did, however, convey to me in other ways.  She taught me to look deeper at people, to look below the surface of looks. She taught me to be respectful of the choices people make. We all do the best we can with where we start from. She taught me the value of  “authentic and real women friends,” women who see us, faults, oddness and all… And still love us, support us and don’t judge us.

She has the most generous and giving of hearts. She has this innate talent to find things that really fit and resonate with the person she is giving it to. I have music from her that I adore, plants, books and so many odds and sundry that she has given to me over the years. She is the person I have spent my life trying to emulate, in grace, generosity, acceptance of other people and my own shortcomings, in the “why not” philosophy, and in making my little shack a very sacred and beautiful space.

Truth be told I also think my hermit nature comes from her too.

I have always thought that one of the best choices I ever made was to love her, and one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given was her love.

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I am a hermit, a termagant , and a marshmallow hearted fool. You have seen me in the eyes of your friends who love you, your mother when she is scolding you and in the stars when you look upward. I am the simplest person in the world, and the most invisible. I was born a crone, will die a maiden and it’s all good. I am called by many names but you can call me her. You know, “her.” That women over there. That’s me, I am her.

Illuminary blogs at Canopy in the Sunlight and tweets as @1little_light.

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Looking for more nest-making posts? They’re here and here and here.

Filed in Stories, voices