This blog is generally about politics, men, music, and technology. It’s not very often that I stray from that to write anything personal. I need to tell a story that is hugely important to me, and although it occurred a very long time ago, it really has had a profound effect on shaping me as a person.
My Aunt Marie was not a person that I knew terribly well. I could count the number of times I met her on my hands. I also haven’t seen her since 2005; so it’s all the more remarkable that her passing today was able to inspire so much emotion in me.
I must have been well under ten years old. My immediate family took a trip to central New York to visit the bigger Bouvier clan. It’s a tremendous family on my father’s side; he’s the youngest of ten children, and the various aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children are incredibly well dispersed. I don’t remember the occasion, but I know a lot of my extended family was there.
My dad is a funny man. He wields his machismo in such a humorous manner that it completely erases any chance of him seeming intimidating. Let me provide an example so you can see what I mean; trust me, it’s on topic.
Aunt Marie had a fabulous back yard. Her house was in the woods and in the back yard was a tiny lake. Okay, it was probably just a large pond, but I was very small so it, in turn, seemed very big. Aunt Marie would feed the fish in that pond so regularly that the fish were not at all afraid of humans. I feel horrible now that my first fishing expedition was in this lake, I was catching her pets! I, of course, had no clue at the time, so really I should be expunged of any guilt.
So dad decides to impress me and the rest of the crowd by literally catching a fish. No, not casting a line and getting one to bite. He stuck his hand into the water, wrapped his fingers around a fish, and picked it up. Quite the achievement! My dad was a hero to me. Unfortunately for him, that fish was something sharp, and it cut his hand right up. My father lost the battle with the fish, but he won the war of awing me.
The point is Aunt Marie just loved everyone and everything. She loved the fish enough to feed them. She loved us enough to let us hunt her pond. The love that she shared had no borders. It was there for all takers, and we all took and are better for it.
When we had to leave her house, I did the most curious thing for a little future-gay to do. I tried to climb in the cupboards. It takes a lot of love to make a homosexual enjoy being in a closet, but I didn’t ever want to leave her palace. I wanted to pick blackberries and pet the deer in her back yard.
I’m lucky to have a family that is filled with examples like Aunt Marie. People who are joyous, welcoming, and most of all loving. If there’s one thing I’ll carry from this it is that when you love all things, all things love you. There is no greater legacy to be had.