She had white hair, a round wrinkled face, kind blue eyes and a big toothless grin. I was a skinny, shy kid with white hair, an angled face and inquisitive gray eyes and a big gap toothed smile.
We were best friends.
Her name was Minnie, I was told to call her Aunt Minnie. She lived two doors down from where my family lived. We had just moved into the house that week when I met her for the first time. I was about 6 or seven, she could have been anywhere from 60 to 90. I know she was old when I first met her. She always wore dresses, silk stockings that she would sometimes roll down to her calves. Clunky, serviceable black shoes with think rubber soles. She wore glasses to read, otherwise they lay against a sagging bosom from a silver chain around her neck.
When she hugged me tight she smelled of dusty lavender, face powder and that morning’s breakfast.
She was married to a man who was a quiet soul. He would sit in the living room and read the newspaper as Aunt Minnie taught me the ‘proper’ way to take care of the house. She was the one who taught a shy little girl how to sweep floors, dust, and iron clothes. As we worked side by side, she would tell me about her only child. A daughter she would tell me, just like me. A cherished child that drowned when she was 12, many years ago. Aunt Minnie never got over the death. She never had any more children.
Aunt Minnie said she had me now, that’s all she needed.
This kindly old lady befriended a small skinny child who needed a friend so much. She must have seen something in me one day that I didn’t know about. I was living a nightmare I couldn’t tell anyone about. I was living a hell of sexual abuse, also my mother and I didn’t get along. So I clung to kind Aunt Minnie as much as she clung to me.
I would help her with her chores, while she taught me so much. She taught me more than she ever knew. She taught me to have pride in what work I did. To have pride in myself. She taught a quiet, introverted book nerd that it was all right to make mistakes. She was patient, kind and never scolded if I did something wrong. She taught me that even if there was many years difference in our ages, two lonely people could be best friends. She taught me to trust again. Hesitantly, but trust her I did.
Aunt Minnie also taught me that it’s the kindness in yourself towards others that will fill a void, a need.
Not nastiness, not jealousy, not hatred. Kindness was something that brought us together, a young child and an older, wiser woman who had so much love in her to share. A child who soaked that kindness up so many, many years ago and now that I am older, is trying to give some of that kindness to others that might need it now.
Thank you Aunt Minnie for being kindness personified.
Jackie lives in Alberta, Canada. She’s from the states, Wisconsin to be exact all though she has not lived there for many years. She lived in Texas for more than 20 years. Now here she is in Canada’s land of cowboys and cattle. Funny how life turns out.
Jackie’s trying to enjoy life more, fulfill some long held dreams. If you are interested, come along with her at To Breathe is to Write and enjoy the ride!