Donna is my aunt, so I’ve known her since I was old enough to register that the pretty blonde lady was part of my family. She is married to my mother’s brother, the world reknowned Uncle Junebug, who has recently traded in that monniker for the new and improved Boom-Pa. But this is about Donna.
Since childhood, I have mentally associated my aunt with words like stylish, cosmopolitan and progressive. To me, she always seemed like she’d been plucked from an artsy gallery party in Manhatten and set gently down into whatever scenery surrounded her.
We are a full-on military family, so save for a couple of my toddler years, we have never lived near enough to see each other often. Rather, I know Donna from a handful of visits in my childhood, a couple of funerals and weddings in my adulthood, from the miracle of technology that is e-mail and Facebook, and from the usual family chatter. As an adult, my word association has expanded to include fighter, fabulous, and feminist.
I have never seen my aunt looking less than chic, being the sort of woman who can stride into a room wearing a black turtleneck with black trousers and a Burberry wrap, appearing as though she has just stepped out of a frame in Town & Country. She carries herself with an air of late afternoon wine tastings, weekends in the Hamptons, and is very, very West Egg if you know what I mean.
Donna is the style icon of my family. I’d like to introduce you to her.
Age Range: 63
Preferred Job Title: Retired
Describe your family: Small, straight, gay, level headed, wacky, kind, passionate, average, extraordinary, neat, messy, funny, dour, smart, artistic.
What does the first hour of your day look like? Although it’s probably only been 16 hours since I saw my grandson, I am rushing around with great anticipation in the morning getting ready to go spend the day with him again.
The last hour? Knitting or reading, but lest you try to stick me in the “sweet, old grandma” category, you should know that I often go to bed so pissed off that I have a hard time sleeping. That’s why I sometimes know it’s better if I don’t watch the news.
What makes you feel successful? Completing anything
What brings you joy? Oliver, flowers, a shoreline, birds, sea glass, cornbread, Obama, seeing tea bagger protest signs with misspelled words.
What women do you admire? Gold Meir, Hillary Clinton, Sister Mary Annunciata, my mother, my daughter.
What do you like best about your closest friend? She has got a definite political opinion and takes no prisoners.
What do you like best about yourself? I’m sure there are times when I am not easy to be around, but I know there are times I am gobs of fun.
What advice would you give boys about girls? No means NO.
How do you overcome adversity? Prayer is soothing, but you also have to get busy solving whatever problem you have.
How do you want to be remembered? Never quite understood that question because at best (unless you kill six million Jews or part the Red Sea) you will only be remembered a generation forward. Maybe two generations if you were crazy Uncle Bubba who escaped from every Veteran’s Hospital south of the line.