I am blessed to live in a climate where there are more days with sunshine and temperate weather than not. Sometimes I forget to include that in the things I have to be thankful for, when things get a little frustrating. This year started somberly and went downhill, so I am glad to see it is finally over and hoping that next year will be better, although we recently lost one of the matriarchs of the family at the astounding age of 101, so it will still be a bit bittersweet.
She was an inspirational figure, having survived being in a Japanese concentration camp in the Phillippines, raising two fine upstanding sons as a single mom, and dealing with discrimination because of her skin tone by laughing it off and taking delight in surprising others with her knowledge of her native Tagalog. I always teased her with starting the health food trend of hearty greens and fresh fish, because she worked in a cannery that afforded her access to mackerel and whatnot and grew collard greens to eat, and that diet undoubtedly contributed to her longevity and lucidity.
Her love of gardening was always evident in her flourishing plants that she delighted in sharing (although, living in the challenging neighborhood she did...pots were often "liberated" by junkies looking for something to sell) and her tiny house abounded in delicious aromas, her rousing piano performances, and love and laughter.
I was always astounded that she continued to ride the bus, well past the age of 70 (maybe 80?), and for the most part, she remained unscathed by the rough neighborhood and was treated with respect. She crisscrossed the city on the bus, always embracing the breadth of cultures available and the beauty and opportunities to be found.
One of my favorite memories is of taking her to the San Diego Zoo...where she was just as enthralled by the plants as the animals...AND she was still raring to go when I was tired and wanting to rest, lol. Of course, I had to convince her not to "accidentally" knock against a couple of plants that she was convinced she would have no problems propagating at home (snicker). I know she would have been successful, as she had no problem taking small cuttings and encouraging them to root and be happy, but she refused to let me buy any for her in the plant shop.
So, as another year ends, I count my blessings, and my mom's auntie was definitely one of them. She will be missed, but our lives were wonderfully enriched by her presence and her loving and cheerful influence continues on in all of us.
I wish you and yours a Happy New Year, filled with amazing new experiences and love and laughter...