Yesterday, I forgot to wear my pearls.
I didn’t forget, initially. I thought about it the entire time I was preparing to shower, showering, dressing and getting ready for the day. I just never actually put on the pearls and wore them. Isn’t that ridiculous?
Of course, I don’t mean I thought obsessively about wearing pearls the entire time I was going through my morning routine. To be honest, I thought of them once. After that, I thought of Aunt Fran. Aunt Fran would have worn pearls. They go with everything.
Aunt Fran was more than my aunt, if that’s fair to say, and I hope it won’t make any of my other aunts feel like they are “less than.” Every one of my aunts is unique and special and important, of course; but, since today is about Aunt Fran and her pearls, which I neglected to wear yesterday, today, we are talking about Aunt Fran.
Aunt Fran was my mother’s oldest living sister when I was born. Twelve years older, she was my mom’s “little mom,” helping look after her when they were young. I think, because she knew that some of us wouldn’t have a Nana (Mom’s mom had passed away some years prior), she sort of stepped in to that role for us…but only sort of, because she also knew that she wasn’t our Nana. She was Aunt Fran. She would stay over at our house for Christmas; and sometimes, one of us would get to go spend a special weekend with her. She lived alone in the City, in an apartment that I thought was very posh and sophisticated, and she had a beautiful but very persnickety cat named Priscilla who wold hide behind the curtains and hiss at visitors. You felt very privileged if Prissy graced you with her presence. While you were visiting, you got to go all over the City with her, and you felt very grown up and sophisticated, riding escalators, shopping at department stores, stopping to pick up mail at the front desk on the way back up to her apartment. I remember being impressed by everything.
After Aunt Fran passed away, while talking with my cousins, I had a momentary selfish pang of realization that I wasn’t the only one. She had taken a bunch of us for the same magical, exciting weekends. I was an adult ~ like a really, grown up, married-with-kids adult ~ and I had this moment of selfish, little-girlish feeling that I wasn’t as special as I thought I was. Luckily, I have the best cousins in the world, and talking with them made me realize that one of the best things about Aunt Fran was the way that she managed to make each one of us feel like we were the most special.
Last night, I felt a little sad when I went to get in to my pajamas and realized I didn’t have to take off my pearls, because I had never remembered to put them on. Then, I remembered while I was in the shower and getting myself ready for the day, thinking about Aunt Fran yesterday, my thoughts had drifted to a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was one I remembered from my childhood, and while I know that it was really written about a nanny, and Aunt Fran was absolutely nothing like a nanny, I thought something about it captured something like the role Aunt Fran played in so many of our lives.
So, I will wear my pearls today, and I will share this here.
Coincidentally, I first read it many years ago in a copy of “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” that was given to me by Aunt Fran on Christmas when I was 5 years old.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Chief of our Aunts ~ not only I,
But all your dozen of nurselings cry ~
What did the other children do?
And what were childhood, wanting you?
What did the other children do? And what were childhood, wanting you?