There are those, who seem to go through life with some sort of secret knowledge. Who have a twinkle in their eye or a sparkle in their smile that says: I know something about living life with my whole heart.
My great Aunt Phyllis was one of those people. She passed away in January at the age of 97. This past weekend family gathered on Grand Manan to celebrate her life. I wasn't able to be there since I was in Digby for a wonderful wedding (more on that later) but I did reflect on my favourite Aunt Phyllis moment.
When I was six or seven, after spending the night at Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Sumner’s in Moncton, I came into her room, hopped up on her bed and began chattering away while she finished her hair and make-up. To a little girl with unruly pigtails, perpetually skinned knees and a chronic inability to keep her fingernails clean, Great-Aunt Phyllis was the most glamorous creature…. Waves of up-swept blonde hair, perfect nails, clothes and jewelry always “just so.”
When she had finished readying herself to face the day, she turned to me and said in that musical and dignified voice of hers… “Come here, I want to show you something…” I walked over and stood beside her, breathless with anticipation. I watched wide-eyed as she reached for the drawer pull on her dressing table. I could smell the powders and perfumes: oh what great treasure or magical potion was she about to share with me?
As she withdrew her hand from the darkness of the drawer, there it was; clutched in her perfectly manicured fingers:
She could barely contain her laughter: “I want you to put this on the carpet in front of your father and act horrified.”
Oh I was horrified alright. No acting required. And I staunchly refused. How could my elegant Aunt Phyllis ask me to do such a thing?
But looking back I realize that the secret of Aunt Phyllis’ long and joyful life was summed up in that moment:
It is all very well and good to be glamorous and clever but the loveliest girls are the ones who know how to laugh.