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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lessons learned from a polyester leisure suit and big hair.

Late Monday night, we received word that Shawn's great aunt Bea had passed away. If you are not from Arkansas, you need to know that is pronounced "Aint". Aint Bea was in her late 90's and had been in poor health for about a year. We are sad that she is gone, but certainly happy for her that she is no longer in pain.

With Aint Bea's passing, I have been reflecting on her life and on the beauty she added to my life. Our first meeting was quite interesting. Aint Bea was a small, skinny woman who never let her hair go gray. She dyed it dark, jet black. It was teased and combed up to about 40 times its natural height. When Aint Bea was going out, she wore thick, heavy make-up - she was especially fond of white powder and FLAMING red lipstick. The first time I met her, she was wearing a bright, lemon-yellow, polyester leisure suit. With bellbottoms and high heels. Now, I have been in the Kemp family for a little over 15 years. Let's do the math - she must have been at least 80 when I met her. She wore that outfit with pride - she knew she looked good.

Aint Bea was a strong woman. She lived alone - the story was that she was engaged to a man who died in the war and she never loved again. I have never been able to confirm this for truth. Maybe it was just a rumor in a small town to explain why a woman would choose to live alone in an era where everyone married. She did not have indoor plumbing until about 20 years ago. Oh - and the plumbing only went to the kitchen. She never had a toilet in her house. She thought that it would be disgusting to do your business in your home and preferred her outhouse in the backyard. She was an immaculate housekeeper, and her yard was cleaner than my kitchen.

Aint Bea was not a woman to be crossed. She was one of these elderly ladies that thought that old age earned you the right to say whatever was on your mind. "Goodness gracious, LaRissa, how much weight DID you gain after that last baby?"

As I reflect back on Aint Bea's contribution to my life, I realize that she taught me some important lessons about life.

1. Fashion is all about what makes you feel good about you
Polyester? Big hair? Heavy make-up? Other people's opinions are not as important as what I think about myself when I take a long, hard look in the mirror.

2. I don't have to have all the latest stuff to be happy.
Who needs a bathroom when you already have an outhouse? I can make do with less and live simply and enjoy a great life.

3. Working hard builds great appreciation for your stuff and improves your character.
Aint Bea always looked for something to keep her busy. Laziness is never an option.

4. Speaking your mind can have great value.
Not so much the whole weight comment, but I have heard her say the difficult things that no one else had the courage to say to people.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know a very unique person and be influenced by her. I hope that I can become a woman of great individuality and character.

**Just a note to those of you who are faithful readers - and are waiting in front of the computer every day for me to post new material - or try to hide from your boss so you can check to see if I've added anything new - You know who you are. (Don't worry, I'm not going to name you online and get you in trouble since I love you girls sooo much, and you recently bought me coffee.) Don't expect any new material until at least Friday since we will be tied up the next several days with the funeral. Seriously, you made my day today telling me your stories about reading the blog. I am deeply humbled that God is using it in your lives and allowing you to use it to share your faith with your coworkers.

1 comment:

Tenille Rauls said...

I appreciate this! Some good thoughts I needed reminding of in my life....Glad I got to find your blog too :)
Mine is