Updated: Jun 29
The words of a young woman who had just graduated from State Teachers College in Buffalo, NY. Much like today, in 1933, there was a vast shortage of jobs, people were going hungry and some were dying of famine, illness, and poverty. This was the Great Depression...
Yet somehow, someway, this young woman found it in her heart to forgive the world and love a little more teaching her young grand-niece that truly the world is a beautiful place.
This woman was my aunt. Aunt Dorothy, or as the family called her, Auntie Dot.
I didn't reflect much on that when I was a child. After all, Auntie Dot died when I was six years old and the memories I had of her teaching me how to play the piano before I was three were something that I admit, at times, I hid away in my psyche.
Probably because those sweet memories were also some, if not all, of my happiest times when I was a child and looking back, was too painful because I knew it could never be the way it was again in my long life ahead.
But over the years, with the help of therapy and growing up, I learned that those memories can guide you. Maybe even to your destiny.
A few months back, I was thawing away at the history of my ancestry. If you've ever tried to create your family tree then you know that this process can be quite daunting and often times very tedious work.
My mind, for whatever reason, doesn't usually work in order - especially when it comes to research. Pulling apart certain aspects of my family on both my mother and father's side was a lot like pieces of a puzzle. You crack open the puzzle box, dump the pieces on a table and one-by-one your picture starts to take shape.
This is certainly true in my case when it comes to researching my ancestry. Every piece of the puzzle no matter how close or how far they are in the bigger picture, is important. It's how your story takes shape.
So when I came across a record of my great aunt (and most certainly my favorite relative), I remembered why I loved her so much in the first place.
She was the kind of person who saw the world through bright eyes. The kind of person who lived in a small quaint home with beautiful flowers to greet you when you walked towards the doorway. A warmth inside the home emanating from her pictures of family hanging on her rose-colored walls. And, of course, her grand piano staged just before the kitchen.
The kind of person where humility knew no bounds. One who my dad, her nephew, could talk to whenever he needed a friend. Needless to say, she was one-of-a-kind.
My "New" Today
To this day, I wish I could remember more about her. To understand why, after living through the Great Depression, her husband serving in the Navy during World War II, working over three different jobs in her lifetime and knowing that she was baron and could never have children; why she still always loved this world.
In her yearbook from 1933, when she attended State Teachers College at Buffalo, a picture of her with the quote "truly the world is a beautiful place," is shown. The same quote she had stitched into a quilt-like fabric and framed on her wall in her home.
Now, I don't have a good enough memory to remember this. When I came across her college yearbook photo, I asked my parents about it and sure enough, my dad told me about the picture that once hung on Auntie Dot's comforting, gentle warm rose-colored walls.
Though it had taken me aback a bit, I smiled. That's the kind of person she was; one that could make even the devil smile. I do remember that...
I wonder now, if she was still living, what her thoughts would be about this modern and society-proclaimed "advanced" world. Yet, I have no doubts she would still think the world is a beautiful place.
It is through eyes of the gentle and the bright that I believe we must see this world through. To know that the world around us was never meant to make us suffer, never meant to make us hurt, never meant to make us lose faith is to know that we are capable of making it beautiful again.
Just like in the era of the Great Depression, we must seek out light and not try to fight darkness with darkness. Darkness against darkness. We must seek out the light upon which this world was built. The light that keeps the human race going forward and the light that makes us love one another.
I'll admit after everything I've been through since I was six years old and last saw my aunt hauled up in a nursery home spending her final days in a coma; I've come to see the world through the eyes of my own darkness and skepticism.
Maybe it was her that day that led me to find out that truly the world is a beautiful place. Maybe she knew that I needed to be reminded of the good in life again.
Ever since that day when I saw her for the first time as a young woman like myself, my outlook on life has shifted slightly. I have come to open my heart a little to a world that will, hopefully, embrace all my gifts that I put forth. A world that I believe can still be and is beautiful.
I don't know how long it will be until I see my auntie again until I play the piano with her again. But I do know that as long as I keep the faith I will always seek out the light in this world, this life. Like she said, truly the world is a beautiful place...
84-year difference...but we still have the glasses rockin'!