This is my mom (in the wheelchair) and three of my amazing aunties. We are not related by blood (In Hawaii, any woman older than you can be referred to as your “aunty” whether you are related by blood or not so these have been my “O.T. Aunties” for as long as I can remember), but they may as well be…
You know what’s pretty amazing about these women? They are Chinese-American women who went to college on the Mainland, earned college degrees, and became occupational therapists in the 1940s.
You know what’s even more amazing about these women? Three of the four are in their 90s. Aunty Jean is the baby as she’s only in her 80s. These women, though, went to school together, raised families together, and they have stuck together like sisters for decades. A few years ago when my mom fell and wasn’t doing very well in the hospital before rallying, my Aunty Bern came to visit and told me wistfully as she held my mom’s hand, “We’ve been best friends for over 80 years…” Think about that. To have a best friend for over 80 years… What a blessing!
Thankfully, mom made a comeback and last night, I was fortunate enough to be there as they celebrated Aunty Mabel’s 93rd birthday along with other friends and family. I was invited along for chauffeur duty, but I must say, chauffeuring these ladies around is a guarantee of a fun time! When you are driving, Aunties will regale you with random never-before-revealed stories like,
“…There was this time when we were going to summer school at Berkeley and the boys from Hawaii [many of whom went on to become prominent Chinese-American businessmen, physicians, dentists, etc.] who were stationed at the military base in San Francisco would come pick us up. Gracie … do you remember when [insert random Chinese Nickname of person, who is now a person you know as Dr. So-and-So and is your friend from high school’s dad’s brother…] was showing off drinking those Zombies and he got so drunk he kept falling off the stool…”
These opportunities to, even now, get to know a little bit more about the woman my mom was as an adventurous 25 year old Asian girl in the city, are opportunities I will treasure forever.
Mom is in a nursing facilities these days, but Aunty Bern and Aunty Jean show up at the facility for “lunch with the girls” every Wednesday like clockwork (along with Aunty Mabel on every 3rd Wednesday of the month).
How awesome is that?!?!?
That, in my book, is how lives should be lived…
Thank you, Aunties! You’re the best!!!