The first time I met my Aunt Delane, I was a wee ratty-headed tomboy, snaggle-tooth with dirt under my fingernails and scabs on my knees. Delane was impeccably dressed with perfect makeup, a smile on her face and smelling of Breck Shampoo; she had a soothing southern tone and was prone to hugs and caressing my head.
I adored her immediately. I stuck by her side for the duration of the visit, softened my tone and matched her every step while she smothered me in compliments in her honey-toned voice.
I had never appreciated a lady.
I wasn’t even sure I knew what one was, until I met Aunt Delane.
All my little life thus far I had appreciated what I considered to be more male qualities; boisterousness and athleticism, taking a stand, getting dirty or sticking up for myself with my fists.
I had to grow up; I had to become a parent, a co-worker, and a wife before I could understand what it was I was drawn to in Delane.
I began to understand what it takes to show restraint when there are idiots all around you (see, still working on it); what strength it takes to care for others more than yourself; how powerful it is to hold your tongue when all round you others are blabbering on and on; what generosity of spirit it requires to see the good in others when everyone else around you is pointing out the bad.
Delane loved all the black sheep in our family with as much gentility as she loved the “good ones” and when I brought my husband to my grandmother’s funeral with his tattooed arms and shaved head, she welcomed him immediately, called him handsome and gave him a hug.
What a lady.
When you were in her company you felt like a success, you felt good, you felt loved.
That is a gift not many of us are capable of or willing to give.
What a lady.
The last thing she said to me as we both cried like babies was,
“I am so sad I won’t be here to see all the wonderful things you are going to do with your life.”
Delane, know this:
I WILL do wonderful things, but I can’t promise I’ll always do them like a lady…and I know you wouldn’t mind.