My Aunt

The aunt that was at the party the night of Chappaquidick (she has an interesting story about that night that I won’t share) met the young man she was almost going to marry in the Peace Corps. His parents and he were Catholics from Boston and they were friends with a few members of the Kennedy family. My aunt even had lunch with Joan Kennedy on Martha’s Vineyard once. But it was the young man she almost married we have always heard the most about (not the Kennedy family or any other well-known individuals)… My aunt has always had her priorities straight.

Her suitor once visited my great grandparent’s farm. My grandmother had moved there after her divorce to take care of her aging parents (my great grandparents) and so when the young man visited to meet my aunt’s family (my family too) he stayed there.

He loved it. Once during a meal he tapped on the walls and proclaimed, “These walls have good energy.” Anyone who was there during those years or for decades after (when my grandmother lived there as the matriarch of the house) would likely have agreed. It did feel unusually peaceful there… That sort of place and feeling should be less rare. People need spaces like that…

My family liked my aunt’s suitor from Boston. He brought small, but very thoughtful gifts for people. And actually, his family loved her too. Ironically his mother even had the same name as my aunt… As I said, they almost were married. But my aunt seemingly decided against it.

Sadly, that decision to not get married may have had something to do with his Catholicism… My family was very Lutheran and I think there was some discomfort about that difference. Christians back then were divided by sect much more severely than they are now. Also, I don’t think my aunt would have wanted to live in Boston. She loves the wide open spaces of the Midwest…

But that aunt could have married a lot of different young men. She was very lovely, intelligent and had an absolutely delightful personality. She still does. She is very sassy, spunky and yet wise. Young men loved being around her because she was so at ease and clever (she has a brilliant wit) but she also was a true lady and they appreciated that as well as her innate beauty.

She once had three gentlemen, who all claimed to be in love with her, unexpectedly visit my great grandparent’s house at the same time. She handled it gracefully and peacefully although my family held their breath a little… But I don’t think anyone was hurt. She didn’t play with hearts… She just won hearts without trying or doing anything tawdry or uncouth and then found ways to kindly and gently set them free again, it seems… She was that sort of rare breed.

Yet, she never let all the admiration from those young Romeos affect her… I still I find that both inspiring and daunting. Inspiring because it’s what people should be like… I aspire to that sort of depth and groundedness. And it’s daunting because life can be so challenging for all of us here and there and handling both blessings and difficulties consistently with that much of a focused perspective on one’s core and genuine values seems near impossible at times… But I still try.