Sunday, May 26, 2013

Auntie Muriel

Happy birthday to my crazy Auntie Muriel!  My mom's brother, John, tries to claim that my mom was "the crazy aunt."  But we all know better.  No one laughs louder, tells wackier stories, lives more boldly, and exudes more joy than his wife, Muriel.  Muriel is crazy in the very best sense of that word--crazy fun!  She is also crazy thoughtful, and she has extended some pretty incredible gestures of love to my family throughout my life, particularly as we have gone through trials and heartache.

When my mom's cancer came back when I was in sixth grade, Aunt Muriel sent me my very first journal.  It was called "Sark's Journal and Playbook."  It was a big 8x10 journal with blank pages for writing, drawing, and dreaming.  Many of the pages had creative prompts at the top, and I filled every page of that book.  I poured my heart and soul into it, and it is still a treasure for me to look through.  Muriel's gift may very well be the reason that I got hooked on journaling at such a young age and am a prolific journaler today (it's kind of out-of-control how much I journal).  I think this type of journal is a perfect gift for a pre-teen going through a difficult family struggle, and Muriel somehow knew that.  (She had a few pre-teen girls of her own at that time!) :)

That same year, I had spine surgery to correct my scoliosis, and to aid in my recovery, the doctor forced me to join a year-round swim team.  I am a terrible swimmer, and I dreaded going to those practices where I was the slowest in the pool.  Around that time, my aunts each took a turn coming for a visit to help my mom (who was still recovering from cancer treatments, while also taking care of my recovery from surgery and my two sisters' daily needs).  During Aunt Muriel's visit, she took me to get a special swim cap in order to make my swim practices a bit more fun.  I remember picking it out--it was Speedo brand with a pearly sheen and all sorts of pink and purple swirls on it.  (Sounds lovely, doesn't it?)  When Muriel dropped me off at practice, she told me I was going to have the most fabulous swim cap in the whole pool, and I just needed to remember how fabulous and beautiful I was, inside and out.  Pretty awesome advice for a discouraged middle school girl!

Years later, when my mom passed away, Muriel offered to do a painting for my dad.  Muriel is a professional artist, and she is so talented.  She painted my dad's favorite photo of my mom and him together, and it still hangs in his home office today.  She has an incredible gift, and I think it is very special that she can use her gift to bring comfort to those who are struggling with loss and heartache.

She has continued to use her artwork to bless our family, first when she did a painting for me when I was going through infertility (I've written before about how much that meant to me), and last year when she did an entire art show about breast cancer which she dedicated to my mom.  Here are some of my favorite images from that exhibit:

This painting is titled "Why me?" It touches my heart to realize that my mom must have had moments like this when, as a 35-year-old mother of three little girls, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

Muriel used a photo of my mom (wearing a scarf due to chemo treatments) reading to my sisters and me as her inspiration for this painting.

I love how my mom's irrepressible spirit is captured by Muriel's use of color! As you can see, Aunt Muriel is crazy talented.  And like her artwork, she herself is full of COLOR and life and beauty.  I am very grateful that I've always had such a vibrant, thoughtful, generous, loving, crazy cool woman in my life supporting me and my family.

Happy birthday, Auntie Muriel!  I love you!

1 comment:

  1. I had never heard some of those stories! The swim cap one made me cry - shocker. :)

    I love her! We are so blessed.


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