family history

My aunt role model came to town. Or, more specifically, returned to the city she called home for 8 years. A sad occasion brought her here, but we decided to make the most of it.

We shared a hotel room and uber-ed to Home Depot and to Sears and to furniture stores. She learned about uber while I learned what to look for in a sofa and what makes a good washer/dryer and what it means to be a Mumford. We ate delicious meals and re-arranged the hotel room and sipped fabulous wine. We spilled our emotional guts. Amaro became frenet and she showed me how to turn an unexpected twist into something you actually wanted.

There’s something about advice given to you by an adult that’s not one of your parents that makes it easier to swallow.

I had always used my Aunt A as a role model of the kind of aunt I want to be to my nieces and nephews, but what I hadn’t realized was that I’d also been using her a barometer for the type of adult I want to be.

Her generosity and intelligence and practicality and toughness and insight (into herself, into those around her, into her job) are fierce. Her firsthand knowledge and recall abilities of family history are top notch, but mostly, it’s her ability to be vulnerable and to share and to give. She wants me to know as much about our ancestors as she does, but it’s important to her that the facts be shared face to face because it creates a new memory for us, in addition to, a cold tale is easier to bear when you have a warm body next to you.

The more I learned about her, the more I learned about me. And not because we’re super similar, but because in her sharing about herself, it made me dive deeper into what I know to be true about myself.

“I’m still not used to this reflection,” I said.

“What? Why?” she said. “When’d you dye your hair?”

“Tuesday,” I said.

Without pause or thought, she said, “When I walked in and saw you, I thought, ‘There’s her Mumford side.'”

And she was right. The red hue is more my father’s side while my natural blonde is my mother’s. It never occurred to me that I was dying my hair a color anything other than something I liked. It turns out my hair is the color of my past.

I have my Aunt A to thank for introducing me to the past, present, and future of me.

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