When I was young and exposed to constant turmoil in our home, I found a safehaven at my Aunti Hazel's house. Every summer, I would stay with her for 4-5 weeks...although I realize now that I usually went to Aunti Hazel's alone. My sisters didn't go with me. I'm sure this gave my mom a much-needed break.
What it gave me was a place where I always felt safe, always felt loved, and always felt taken care-of.
Aunti Hazel was eccentric. She lived with a high degree of vibrancy - her reactions were never filtered or muffled. She emoted from an intense, visceral place. She was never uncouth, but she was no delicate flower either. Her favorite saying? "Nuts to you!" She purchased a new Cadillac every two years. Her home included a guest cottage, and she delighted in pushing the button in the main house that sounded the ringer in the guest house, telling everyone to get up and get breakfast. Usually around 7am.
Aunti Hazel was a woman of great style and eclectic taste. Her front door was thick and solid wood that split in the middle so only half could be opened. She had shutters and shutter dogs on every window. She had a pepper grinder with a hog's head on the top...and you could wind it up to play music.
We only ate at the dining room table. Lighted candles every night, it was my job to snuff them out after dessert. She taught me how to butter my bread properly, set the table, and we always used linen napkins.
I've always missed her. But during times when I feel exhausted or stretched or unsure of my path...I find myself longing to be with her again. In her home...safe, warm, protected.