Meet my Aunt Flo.
She is 99 years old, and she just left us this week. This picture was her 2 years ago at our 88th Annual Rashid family reunion weekend in Peoria, IL.
To me, this woman is timeless. She is sharp and lovely. I’ve spent a lot of time with her over the last 35 years of my life, and here is what I’ve learned about living a long, long, healthy life.
She thanks people all day long. I had the chance to lovingly feed her during our dinner this reunion weekend, and after every bite I put in her mouth, she’d say, “Thank you honey.” After every bite. When we’d buy her a gift for Christmas, she’d call and write a note. Any time she came over to our house growing up, she’d call the second she got home to thank us. If we went to her house, she’d call when we
got home to thank us. Grateful, grateful, grateful.
We were eating a beautiful spread of Lebanese olives, hummus, and pita bread before the meal came out. We finished with her plate, and I asked if she wanted anything else? She looked at me and said, “What else could I possibly want? With you good people and this food, I am blessed.” Amen.
When we visited Aunt Flo’s house growing up, there was always a candy drawer with lots of gums and sweets. She’d always ask us what was our favorite. Whatever answer we gave, there would be double that item for our next visit, and she did not even eat candy.
FRUGALITY DOES NOT MAKE YOU CHEAP
Aunt Flo grew up during the great depression. She had a number of siblings and times were tough. You can always tell when someone grew up in a home of sharers. Aunt Flo is a sharer. But she also saves things. She takes food she does not eat home. She grabs a few extra mints at the restaurant. She recycles clothes and wrapping paper. Her frugality has opened up a lot of space for her to give.
LOVE YOUR FAMILY
Obvious one, but this woman would do anything for her family. Sometimes, I feel selfish. I want to do my own thing. I want to be on my own agenda and just think about my needs. Every time I am with Aunt Flo, I want to give more of myself, of my talents, of my space.
DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
Aunt Flo always gives herself a hard time. “What do I know?” she always jokes. The irony is she is one of the smartest women I’ve ever met. Deep down I think she knows it. But she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
I could list 20 more things. Smile, dance, joke, eat slowly. But here was my favorite moment. For the 3 hours Aunt Flo was at the reunion, hundreds of people wanted a photo with her. Old people, young people, cousins, distant relatives, everyone.
I told her, “Aunt Flo, you are a celebrity.” My cousin looked at her and said, “She sure is.”
Then he looked at me and said a line that struck my core.
“If you live all these years being good and loving people as much as your Aunt Flo has, you’ll be a celebrity too.”
Thanks for being our rockstar. I love you with every grateful bone in my body.
Keep an eye out for us up there. We appreciate you as much as you appreciate us.
A lot. Enough. Eternal.