My sisters and my Lauderdale cousins began a tradition five years ago of celebrating our elders on their birthdays, both honoring them and enjoying them while they were still with us. During that time, our family has dwindled as we said goodbyes to aunts and an uncle. The last surviving member among my father’s siblings is my aunt June. We gathered today to celebrate her 83rd birthday.
Aunt June shared a meal with the family, and shared blowing out candles on her chocolate wacky cake with her granddaughter Callie, whose birthday is a couple of days beyond her own. Her face lit up, with sweet and sincere delight and a hint of mischief, as we all sang Happy Birthday.
This gentle woman with the shining soul lost her husband a couple of years ago, the man she had spent a lifetime with as they loved, worked, and raised a family together. Her world shifted dramatically the day she lost him, and it continues to shift. Memories are swaddled in foggy grayness and some of them are difficult to access. She trusts her children to tell her what she needs to know and to take care of what needs doing. Her faith in them and her ability to live in the present, moment by moment, imbue her with a peaceful, child-like joy that is so beautiful.
My aunt’s birth name is Bonnie June, although she has gone by her middle name for most of her life. I looked up her first name.
Bonnie is a Scottish word meaning “pretty”, and was itself derived from the Middle French word bonne “good” as a way to describe a fair, good and beautiful girl. Bonne was in turn derived from the Latin word “bonus” meaning good.
Bonnie is an apt name for this dear woman. My aunt possesses a good and generous heart and her beauty shines forth from a seasoned soul, a reflection of a life well lived. I’m grateful for the opportunity to celebrate her and love on her and show her how much she means to the family.
We all hope that we get to gather many more times, to sing happy birthday and share a meal with Bonnie June Lauderdale Aaron. My sisters, my cousins and I desire to live with grace and gratitude, and without regrets. We are doing that by rejoicing in life’s celebrations, as often as we can.