I was standing outside in the church parking lot, black asphalt hazy with heat. Mama was introducing me to this sweet lady who sat perched in the passenger seat of her car. She complimented me–well, you know how it is. She was really complimenting my Mama because we all want to hear how pretty our kids are.
Then I heard my Mama say, “I think she looks like her Aunt Wanda.” My pride meter shot through the roof. But I tried to play it cool in front of this stranger and my exquisite mother. (What can I say? I believe in returning compliments.)
For the quiet parts of the 30-minute drive home–three of my own pretty kids accompanied me–my mind ran back to that seemingly offhand comment. Did I really look like my Aunt Wanda, whom by all accounts of anyone who matters is regarded as one of the most extraordinary women to have graced the earth? My pride soared a second and third time.
Aunt Wanda made you feel beautiful. Special. Kept. She had a way about her that said, “Come on in. Stay forever.” She always smelled good. Her home always smelled good. And she was always laughing. Even in the face of adversity.
I hate cancer. It takes the best people.
Mama, you may have just said that to be nice, but I’d appreciate it if you’d keep saying it. Because I can’t imagine aspiring to a greater compliment.
Aunt Wanda, Anna’s birthday always makes me think of you. In past years, it has given me comfort to imagine you rocking her and reading her books. Now that Anna is 5, I imagine you pushing her in a swing and running right alongside her in your perfect heavenly body. Please wrap her up in your warmest hug, pat her long brown hair like you used to mine, and tell her I love her. Maybe you could even make her a bowl of banana pudding.
And would you point me out to her? Surely she’ll recognize me. I’m the one who kind of looks like her Aunt Wanda.