I've been meaning to start blogging here for several weeks, and right now seems like the appropriate time to begin...
My Aunt May passed away a few days ago, at the amazing age of 95. She was one of my favorite people on earth, and I was always a little in awe of her. Her life just seemed so full as to border on myth. Her full name was May Flewellen Mcmillan, a name of which she was incredibly proud. She lived her whole life in the same house she was born in, a white, one-story house, with gorgeously high ceilings, on a quiet street in Macon, Georgia. She loved to tell how, years and years ago, the house down the block had to be picked up by horses-and-carts and swung around to face a newly built, paved road. She had a front porch with a white washed wooden swing and a ginkgo tree that they realized too late was of the female persuasion. That meant that every year this funny tree dropped buckets worth of stinky purple fruit all over the front yard and the walkway leading up to the front porch. This pesky gingko tree was the only inelegant thing associated with Aunt May, and I think she left it there as a kind of reminder to the rest of us that she wasn't 100% perfect.
The way she told it, her life was one great, comfortable adventure. There was too much talk of porch settin' and bird chirpin' for it too have been really wild, but it was an adventure none the less. My favorite stories were of her time studying English literature at Columbia University. She was a favorite among the students for her little potted flowers she had sent from down south, and her professor always made her read poetry out loud because it sounded so much better in her smooth, aristocratic southern lilt. I still own two coats she wore when she lived in New York, and even though I now live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, those coats will always have a place in my closet .
As soon as I got old enough, she introduced me to the wonders of fine china and crystal glassware. Each visit required a pop quiz on the difference between cut glass and *grimace* pressed glass. Pressed glass makes an ugly clanking noise when you tap it with your fingernail, but cut glass rings and rings in the prettiest, most delicate tone. Just last week I was telling this story to some coworkers, and I was mildly horrified that not only did they not know the difference, but they didn't seem to fully appreciate its importance!
When I reached high school, I began to fancy myself a writer, and Aunt May patiently read my stories, pointing out to me in the most serious tone all the sentences which were less than stellar and, thankfully, not forgetting the few that showed hints of promise. I still feel proud that she thought I could write; that she gave me a copy of her doctoral dissertation on The Sublime; that, on my overstuffed bookshelf, is a signed copy of her book The Shortest Way to the Essay.
My Aunt May was not a gentle woman. She was proud, and smart, and ornery. But those were, honestly, my favorite things about her. She always seemed more like me than any one else I'd met. I knew that if I grew up to be like her, that would be an great accomplishment. I don't have any kids yet, but I always wanted to name my daughter after Aunt May. When I decided to start my own business, it seemed right to name this "baby" after her instead. This way I'm reminded everyday of what is most important- Family, Tradition, and a good story!
My Aunt May was the Matriarch of our family for many years, and I know that she will be greatly missed. I also know that she left an indelible mark on each of us, and she will live on, just as she most desired, through generations and generations of Mcmillan descendants and the stories we tell.