Today is the birthday of my dear, beloved Aunt Garnie. We have silver strings that hang loosely, but securely between our hearts. Her birthday is June 19th and my birthday misses her’s by 2 hours and 45 minutes on June 20th.
Her name is Mary Garland Tipps-Sumner, and mine is Kristi Garland Tipps-Deutsch. She’s a glorious Gemini, as am I. She’s a bright star, and I have mapped her all of my life. She is so much a part of who I am that it would be hard to separate those parts. She has poured so much of herself into me, and I carry her every day.
She taught me how to talk to animals and recognize that they are as true in nature as human beings. We talked to birds, cows, sheep, horses, dogs and, our favorite, cats. She helped me to see their personalities and boundless love.
In the saddest, most desolate part of my life, instead of coddling and bending to my will out of guilt, she gave me structural support. Created boundaries to live within. She built fences to keep me safe, from myself. She held me accountable for my behavior in the most loving, shame-less, forgiving way.
She introduced me to my life-long passion for Slurpees.
She’d walk behind me on the trails around our cabin, and never said, “No, don’t climb on that,” or “No, don’t go that way.” All she said was, “Be careful,” as I explored my own path.
But most importantly, she did for me the most important, most nurturing thing you can do for anyone, especially a child. She listened. She listened in long bouts of silence, leaning in, nodding, and giving her signature, “Ah hah”. She just listened. When there was a pause, she didn’t rush in to fill the silence, she’d just patiently look down the roadway as we drove, until I spoke again. If I had a question, she’d answer it, but only to create a platform for me to figure it out on my own. She didn’t treat me like an adult, but she sure as hell scaffolded my process of becoming one.
And now that I am an adult, I value everything she taught me, and I try to instill it all into Tessa. She is more a part of my daughter than anyone will ever know, simply through trickle down love.
I am the woman I am today, because of the woman she’s always been in my life. I love you, Garnie.