Bonnie June’s Birthday

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.

Bonnie June’s 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.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday The birthday girls.

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 June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday

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.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Happy Birthday Aunt June

This afternoon, members on the Lauderdale side of my family gathered to celebrate my Aunt June. She recently turned 82 years old. For the past five years, today’s party has been a joint celebration for Aunt June and her older brother, Rex, who both had July birthdays. Sadly, my uncle passed away earlier this year, making this afternoon’s gathering more poignant and even more precious. 

Happy Birthday Aunt June
My aunt is, in fact, the last surviving sibling in her family that at one time included my father and her twin sister, Jean. They were the six Lauderdales, children of my grandparents Dennis and Grace. One sister died in a tragic accident, as a toddler. I don’t think the family ever quite recovered from little Margaret’s death. My grandmother could not speak of her youngest child and my uncle always referred to her as “poor little feller”. My father was deeply impacted by the loss of his baby sister and carried a misplaced sense of guilt over her death his entire life. 

There was no sadness in my aunt today however, as we loved on her and sang happy birthday. This kind and sweet woman lives very much in the present moment. With age, her recent memories have begun to slip away or get tangled in her mind. And yet her spirit remains bright and pure, like a child’s. She is gracious and grateful, responding to affection with sweet hugs and kisses. 

Happy Birthday Aunt June
Happy Birthday Aunt June
I appreciate her children, my cousins Pam and Alan, continuing what has become a treasured family tradition. We decided years ago, as we gathered at another family member’s funeral to say goodbye, that we needed to honor the living while they yet lived. 

I am so glad that we put actions with that intention. Saying goodbye to Uncle Rex a few months ago, there were no regrets, no we should haves. I hope we have Aunt June here with us for many more years, to love and honor and celebrate. She is our beautiful Lauderdale matriarch. Her very presence inspires me to seize each moment and live it fully. 

Happy birthday, dear one. I love you! 

Happy Birthday Aunt June