Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And I want to dedicate
this one to a very special woman who is often overlooked on this holiday. A
woman who is neither my mother nor my grandmother or even a mother at all. This
Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to my grandmother’s sister who, in essence, was my
second grandmother. My incredible great-aunt, who was widowed young and never
had children, loved her sister’s kids as if they were her own, including my
dad. And when my dad had his own kids, she loved us every bit as much.
When I was
very small, I actually didn’t realize that she wasn’t our grandma. She was and
still is an outstanding surrogate. She is one of the many beautiful souls in my
life who have shown me what it means to love without restrictions. She has
proven that love doesn’t have to follow traditional guidelines to be real and
true and pure. As a kid, I didn’t really understand the depth of what was
happening. As I got older, I slowly began to realize that I have been blessed
with more love than any one person deserves. In no small part due my awesome
So on this Mother’s Day 2017, let’s all remember the
women in our lives who are not mothers in the traditional sense of the word.
Let’s salute those women who step up when they don’t have to. Let’s show them
how much they mean to us. So today, Aunt V, I salute you. I salute your big
smile and your bigger heart. I salute your warm hugs and your open home and all
the amazingness that is you. Most of all, I salute your great love. I accept it
with gratitude and I return it to you with all my heart. I love you more than I
have words to say. Happy Mother’s Day.
Boots. Just one word is enough to put a grin on my face. I adore boots. Dress, riding, combat, ankle, hiking, work, tall, short, black, brown, white, gray, with heels, without heels, zippered, lace-up, or pull-on – any and all boots are my favorite. But the absolute top of the heap when it comes to boots are unequivocally cowgirl boots. Or cowboy boots, if you’re a fella. I don’t remember not being in love with them. I don’t wear them all the time (unfortunately), but when I do, I feel like the queen of the world.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved the idea of cowboys and the Wild West. Cowboys and rustlers was my favorite kind of role-play as a kid. (Tea parties was my other favorite – riddle me that if you can.) I devoured western movies and books. Still do actually. I recently found a copy of a very old cowboy book that I had as a kid, which I unfortunately lost. But every cloud has a silver lining and this one was no exception. The book was for sale as part of a set – and I had never heard of the other book. So not only did I recover a long-lost favorite, I found a new favorite as well. My grandpa loved cowboy stuff too. I remember his boots and hats and country music and his extensive John Wayne video collection.
Despite my love for all things western, especially boots, I didn’t own my first pair until I was nearly grown. It was primarily a money issue. Good boots aren’t cheap and money was kinda scarce growing up. My first pair of cowgirl boots (which I still have) came to me second-hand. From a flea market of all places. Fit me perfectly and in very good condition. I paid $8 for them. I was so excited. I was gonna take a picture of myself wearing those boots and the western shirt from my grandma and send it to her and my grandpa. Two days later my grandpa went to heaven. He never saw the picture, but I think of them as my “Papa boots” – a little piece of him that I will forever cherish. I can almost feel him smiling down on me every time I wear them, and that makes me smile all the more.
Knitting, after reading, is my all-time favorite hobby. I love the click of the needles and the feel of the yarn in my hands. There is something inherently calming in the simple activity of knitting. And there is something immensely gratifying in taking a ball of yarn and 2 sticks and making something beautiful and useful. Knitting soothes my soul in a way few other things do.
Not to say I’m an expert knitter – far from it. Though no longer a beginner, I don’t even look at knitting patterns that are past intermediate skill level. I recently started my first full-size afghan. It is also my first project that includes cable knitting. My prior experience has been limited to small projects such as headbands and baby blankets. My biggest challenge is finding time to knit. As much as I love it, it seems there is always something else to do. Then, too, it’s more of a cold-weather activity. Knitting is the last thing on my mind when I’ve been out working in the heat all day. Although I do not like the cold, it does put one in the mood to knit – and I do love that. Add a little music and maybe a cup of hot tea, and I’m practically in heaven.
One of the reasons I love knitting so much is that my grandma taught me how. I was maybe 8 or so when she put my first pair of needles in my hands. She even created a simple knitting pattern for me – which, of course, was super-special. I was knitting something that no one else had ever made. Pretty cool. I did not recognize at the time that there was something else super-special about this experience: she’s not really my grandmother. She’s my step-grandmother. She married my grandpa when I was about 3. Growing up, I had no idea she wasn’t my “real” grandma. I called her grandma, she loved me, and I loved her. What more did we need? Turns out, nothing. She is a remarkably open, generous, loving, beautiful person and she took us and loved us as if we had been her own flesh and blood. And she has, by her example, helped teach me what it means to love – to love knitting, to love life, to love people. And I will always love her for that.