As children my brother and I lived a very "privileged" life. We spent many hours entertained by a jester, a magician, a clown, a musician, a body surfer and a professional story teller...just to mention a few.
We searched the "mountains" for arrow heads and went on great adventures through the "forest". And hidden in this "forest" was our own personal wishing well where we tossed pennies, made wishes and had no doubt they would all come true.
We were regaled by fairy tales and stories of "Little Black Sambo" and we knew beyond a doubt that the "hokey-pokey" was really what its all about.
Some children have a favorite stuffed animal, a doll or a blanket. My brother and I? We had Aunt Eva.
Aunt Eva was sheer entertainment. There was nothing she wasn't up for. Whether it was hiking the lake roads, a ride in the back of the pick-up, body surfing the lake "waves" or just "one more story".
Our "privileged" life included hours spent in a simple old house turned daycare or a frame lake cabin complete with wood burning stove and an outhouse or maybe just a day at home.
We thought Aunt Eva was all ours - because she made us feel like she was. What we didn't understand at the time is that she made everyone feel that way. She wasn't just an Aunt - she was a Nurse, a day care operator, a Wife, a Mother, a Grandmother, a sister, a daughter and a friend among many other things. And in each of those roles she made the people she interacted with feel like they were the most important people in the world. I would love to know how many births she participated in in her career. How many children she cared for. How many nursing students she mentored. How many lives she touched.
Aunt Eva recently celebrated her 85th birthday. She's no longer tracking through the woods or body surfing the waves. Her days of birthing babies are long since past but her eyes still twinkle and seeing her smile and hearing her stories fills my heart with joy.
We had the opportunity to see her over the summer at our family reunion. She and my brother were discussing her health and she told him the doctor had told her that her heart was just "no good". He later old me about the conversation and we chuckled knowing "no good" was probably not the description the doctor had used.
In truth Aunt Eva's heart is tired and doesn't work like it used to but we know there's not a better heart out there. It's a heart of gold. A heart that has touched an innumerable number of lives. A heart that has nurtured imaginations, loved unconditionally and spread joy to whomever it touched.
Yes, we led a "privileged" childhood...privilege that no amount of money could have bought. We were loved, shaped and cared for by an exceptional lady with an exceptional heart - a heart weathered by time but ever strong in spirit.