I may have mentioned my Aunt Mae a few times throughout this blog.
I really loved this woman. Anyone who knew her loved her.
She passed from cancer back in 2010, and I just feel it. I loved being around her. She mostly lived in apartments, until eventually purchasing her own home, and she seemed to make any place big or small seem just teeming with love that you can’t even bridle. I mean, you didn’t want to, you just wanted to feel it all the time and she just brought that with her.
I loved the fact that she had a gap, just like me. She was always so funny and could rock a low-cut fade just as wonderfully as an afro, or a bunch of two strand twists. My Aunt Mae was natural before it was a movement.
But style aside.
One of the things I have been determined about, in terms of keeping her legacy of love alive is how she hosted her family and friends when they visited her home.
She worked so hard to keep her visitors happy, well-fed, and entertained. She was so serious about showing folks every cool thing in the city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas and sharing fun restaurants and activities.
I’ma keep it real.
My mom has always been a super private person, and not really big on hosting even before she got sick. So people came to visit, but we didn’t have a whole lot of folks staying over a lot or coming to dinner.
My Aunt Mae, on the other hand, made every gathering an event. She was particular and she wanted everything to be juuuust right.
As my friends can attest, I get the same way when I do decide to throw gatherings at my home, or when friends come to visit and they stay with me.
My friends can also attest that I’m going to take you to all of the restaurants, and walk you to death, so you can see whatever attraction in D.C.
Another thing that I’m finding I’ve inherited from my Aunt Mae is the overwhelming emotion she used to display when it was time for people to go home.
I mean she’d hug you and start tearing up.
My Aunt was a single woman for a large part of her life. And as a single woman, living alone, just from this week and other times family and friends have visited, I didn’t realize how lovely it is to have someone else in your home to talk to, or not talk to. To have breakfast or dinner with, to comment about things on television.
My dear best friend will be leaving tomorrow and I’m already sad.
We’ve had a low-key week. She actually instructed me not to go nuts with trying to find us things to do everyday. She just wanted a break. And that’s just what we did.
We went to a Korean BBQ, and then went to a Karaoke spot with private rooms, and proceeded to sing an array of interesting songs. “Thong Song,” “Can we talk?”, “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I attempted to sing “Love On Top” and frankly folks are trippin about Beyonce lip synching. That girl starts out on really high keys– I was struggling…I would have done it too. Even my friend saw what song it was and said, “Yeah girl, you got this one.”
Anyway, just sitting around and talking about life was fantastic. There are a handful of other friends who when they visit, I have these moments with them too and it’s just so special to me. Sometimes there’s cooking involved and a little bit of wine, ok. A lot of wine. And it’s just great.
I’m super, super fortunate.
Another friend who attended my inauguration/Ravens game party mentioned how she enjoys my gatherings because I tend to “collect” the coolest people. I agree. I was on cloud nine surrounded by friends, who were eating, drinking, having fun discussions and just getting along with one another even if they’ve never met or have seen each other before.
I was thrilled.
I’m going to really feel it when my friend goes back. The house tends to feel super lonely and not as fun when my loved ones return home. Then I get super sad.
So I understand why my Aunt Mae would hold us close and often cry. My dad would always make fun of her (Honestly, he shouldn’t even talk. He can get misty too and so does my uncle. We come from a long line of softies). But I get it.
I understand the joy and the thankfulness and how precious it is to spend time with the people you love, and those who just get you. On a larger level, she understood life and love and how fleeting these great moments are in time and that in an instant all they can evolve into is just a memory.
The folks who REALLY understand you…I mean, you can do anything, say anything, look any kind of way and they get you. They don’t judge you. Or if they do, they’ll tell you they are judging you, and everyone laughs.
Then they can also call you out about why you keep so many plastic bags, or why you’re trash bags don’t fit the big garbage can you bought, or why you’re original kitchen garbage can was way too small to begin with. Yes, this happened. My friend intervened and we cleared out a bunch of bags and returned them to the grocery store.
When you have people so in tune to who you are, and can make references to how far you’ve come, it can sometimes be embarrassing, but it can also be so refreshing, because they were indeed, right there with you, growing and evolving too.
You were doing it together, all along.
I know my friend needed a break. I was happy to offer my home and my company. But she gave me just as much by just being right there filling my house with silly laughter. Besides, she cooks and cleans too. I ain’t mad at that.
Like my aunt, I feel emotional. I’ll miss having that access to my friend. And I won’t look forward to the sting of how lonely I know I get. I even slept better with my friends in my home.
So Aunt Mae, folks called you emotional. They may have even said you were a bit dramatic when you had to say goodbye. But now I see. You weren’t. You were honest about how you really felt about people you loved and you weren’t the least bit afraid to show it. And now that you are gone, I don’t have to ever wonder if you loved us. Because you gave it all you had when you fluffed a pillow, fed us, took us to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, or the Zoo. You gave it all you had when you hugged and kissed us goodbye and told us something funny in our ears, that was just for us.
I don’t think I’ll ever be quite close to the hostess you were, but you’ve certainly given me something to aspire to.
I love you and thank you.
Ok, let’s get it over with and just weep… lol. Patti LaBelle, “You Are My Friend.”