Today would have been my great Aunt Josephine’s 100th birthday. It brought me back to an old post back in 2013 that I wrote about the influence of her on my life. The post was about other stuff as well, so here is the important insert: (keep reading, because I added an update)
“The first fourteen years of my life, as a collective memory, just seems very dark, with the exception of one—- an encounter with my Aunt Josephine.
I can clearly remember looking up at her during a family get together and her bright smile seemed to immediately lift the darkness away. When I looked up at her, she handed me this enameled daisy chain bracelet. It seems, as a memory, as if she were an angel looking down on me. This was the first and the last time I ever encountered Josephine.
I held on to that bracelet for a long time, and unfortunately lost it in one of our many moves. Many of you know I am a sucker for vintage stores, and now you know why– I am on the constant search for this daisy bracelet.
I think back to that night often, and I know clearly, that this was a defining and pivotal moment in my life.
A few months ago, Aunt Josephine died and I was immediately overwhelmed with an unexpected regret that I was unable to thank her for giving me faith that there is good in this world, even when you have to search hard to see it.
She is one of the reasons that I give back– to know that one day, there might be a little girl, searching in earnest for a sliver of good in her world, and hopefully some small gesture of mine will give her that and she will in turn do the same thing for others. Josephine gave me that hope and I hope I unknowingly, yet conscientiously do the same for others………………………….
Here is what I think I am trying to say here: recognize where you came from–the good and the bad, how you deal with it will form your character. Thank the people who got you to where you are and where you are going, make amends and forgive those that have wronged you, because you are the one losing sleep, not them. Know that small gestures have the ability to change the course of someone’s life, without you even knowing it, so be aware of everything that you do and put into the universe. Be hopeful that there is good in this very evil world. If anything, there is always good in a daisy.”
Two months after I wrote this, my parents tracked down an exact replica of the bracelet in Canada. I wear it when I need direction and strength to keep going.
Then, almost two months ago, someone that I very much respected and trusted was killed in a car accident. We talked the day before the accident and that conversation has haunted me since. We discussed business at first, and then we caught up about our families. I asked him how things were going, and his response was, ‘for the first time in years, I can say that I am completely happy…the kids are happy, the wife is happy, I’m happy and work is good.’
And then he died. This was a genuine ‘what the hell kind of world do we live in that you finally get your happiness act together and then you die?’ moment for me Today, I’m grateful that he died happy and his last words to me weren’t that he was unhappy.
I am also grateful that during one of the last conversations with him, I told him how much I appreciated him and everything he had done for me. I am so, so thankful that I told him that.
After Josephine died, I decided I would start telling people how grateful I am for them as part of my journey towards living an authentic life. The regret I had after realizing I would never be able to tell her the impact she had on me has not sat well with me over the last few years. On her 100th birthday, I can say that even though I did not get to tell her, her death impacted change for the better in my life.
Tell people you are grateful for them. Forgive them. Love them. You will be nothing but better for it.