Guiding Light

Uncle Roy, Aunt Nancy, Mom: August, 2006

Taproot Treasure
Yesterday I visited Legoland with my daughter, son-in-law, their sons, and my co-grandparents. Newborn Sawyer slept through the visit; four-year-old Cadence delighted in the park, the rides, and the Lego statues.

As I returned to Orange County that evening, I was reflecting on the pleasure of the day when my phone rang. It was my great-aunt Nancy. She’d just seen the photos I had emailed of Sawyer and was calling to congratulate me on my new grandson.

Nancy is married to my great-uncle Roy. My grandfather was the oldest of the Downs boys and Roy, the youngest. He and Nancy are just a few years older than my parents and their sons are roughly the same ages as my siblings and me. During my childhood we spent a lot of time together.

Then we grew up, life happened, and we saw one another less–though Nancy, my mother and my aunt made it a point to gather regularly. Nancy and I reconnected when my mother was dying.

We don’t speak frequently, but when we talk, it’s never small talk. She’s insightful, smart, and unflaggingly kind. I learn something important about my family every time we talk.

Last night our topics ranged over my new grandchild, her oldest son’s health, their summer adventure in their RV, our respective plans for Thanksgiving, her sisters, bible study, and our husbands.

Nancy manages to weave the family history into the most mundane topics. Last night I heard, for example, of the time my mother told her that the best accompaniment to split pea soup is “any kind of wine.” At another point I was struggling to explain my mother’s feelings about my overseas travel as a graduate student. When I fumbled for the right words, Nancy supplied them: “…she would have liked to have gone herself.” “Exactly!” I replied.

We talked for an hour. Barring the sharing of urgent family news, we don’t do short phone calls. When I hung up I realized that Nancy is the only woman of an ascendant generation remaining in my family who’s known me all my life.

Time spent talking with my great-aunt Nancy illuminates for me my place in my family, much like reading my bible illuminates for me my place in God’s family.

She’s a treasure.

12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.
2 Peter 1:12-13 (NLT)