Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Woman I Want to Be

Aunt A
Over the course of my life I've occasionally met women who make me say, "That's who I want to be when I grow up." The echo you hear is from yesterday's post, when I made that very statement about the beautiful woman in this picture. I said it about Aunt A, but also about my mother, several of my own aunts, lovely Wanda from church, and half a dozen others who have been in and out of my life during the past five decades.

They have something admirable, something I can't define but (like pornography) that is clearly evident when I see it. 

So what captures that something I want to be when I grow up?

Aunt A was the perfect hostess, but during our three days in her home I also heard her admiration for the veterinarian she knows who has traveled to Haiti to care for hurricane-affected animals, the heartbreak she feels for those suffering in Somalia. My mother doubled and tripled the number of guests at her Christmas dinner to include orphans and widows, and volunteered to teach the Sunday School class of 80+-year-olds because she knew this would keep them connected and involved. I think of elegant Wanda sorting clothes in the thrift shop and helping women put together the perfect ensemble for a job interview.

And then I realize that I had unwittingly distilled the attar of quality that sets these exemplary females apart: These women spend their lives looking away from themselves. They're marked by their genuine care for others that demonstrates itself in a boots-on-the-ground way. Their hearts beat for the world, and for their neighbors, and they champion those who can't speak or stand up for themselves.

That's the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up, and now.

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