It's impossible to summarize anyone's life, especially a life as well-lived as my Aunt (technically Cousin) Rae Spivey in a page. Rae was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend, chef, real estate agent, confidante, caretaker, niece, all at once. There are a million ways to show how wonderful she was as a person, as a professional, as a caregiver...as anything really but I'd like to talk about two. The two for me that really summarize what Rae Spivey was all about.
When I was really little I only knew two things for certain about Aunt Rae. One, that she lived in a magical home where everyone I was related to apparently spent all of their time and movies played constantly and soda just appeared out of thin air (In reality they just had HBO and a soda delivery service which to a 6 year old is magic and to a 30 year old is...still basically magic). The other was that she loved me very, very much. This was funny because I had absolutely no idea why. When you have a really large family there's no real explanation for why someone is related to you. No one really bothers to explain that they're your Grandfather's niece or Uncle's cousin...you just sort of go with it. I remember asking my Grandma as we walked up to the Rae and Tom's house once how we were related and my Moonie giving an explanation. While it was nice to know why Aunt Rae loved me so much I think the important thing is that it didn't REALLY matter. Rae loved me because...well it didn't really matter, she loved me because she loved me.
Someone once asked Kurt Vonnegut what they should do with their lives and Vonnegut is supposed to have replied "make the world a little less lonely." Aunt Rae knew this without ever having to be told. Aunt Rae made everyone feel special, feel like they belonged, feel like they were LOVED. It didn't matter what you did, where you went, or what happened; Aunt Rae cared about you you because it was better if you knew someone cared about you. She treated you special because everyone deserves to be treated special. Aunt Rae loved you because loving and being loved is the best thing you can do.
The other moment for me that really shows why Rae Spivey was so unique and so wonderful was when she took me apple picking. This was no ordinary picking of apples. I'd just briefly gone to, and then dropped out of law school and was spending a few days in Connecticut and was, more or less, a wreck. I'd failed. I'd attempted something and then absolutely screwed it up. I was a failure, a loser, an unemployed law school drop out. I lived in fear of telling family and friends what I'd done, and then ceased doing with no backup plan. I remember meeting up with Rae at the apple orchard and being TERRIFIED of what she'd say. Was she upset? Disappointed? Did your family still love you after you quit graduate school?
Aunt Rae did. She didn't say a word about any of it except she kissed me, gave me a hug and just said "You would've hated being a lawyer, you're meant for better things." To this day it is one of the top 5 all-time most important things anyone has ever said to me. Aunt Rae knew I was hurt and all she wanted to do was make me feel better. To know that that was what I needed, and how to do it is part of made Rae Spivey who she is. People don't fly as high as they can unless they believe someone will be there to catch them. Aunt Rae spent her whole life weaving nets, and letting people know that no matter what they did, she would be there to catch them. Aunt Rae believed in people, she cared about people, she loved people. She would tell you if you were doing something wrong, but she also knew when you just needed to know that when you fell, she was there to catch you.
It's easy to think that, now that Aunt Rae is up in Heaven, enjoying the two hour phone calls, extended shopping days and bee-hive hairdos of Paradise that the great work, great love, great PERSON she was isn't around anymore but I don't think that's true. The good deeds in our lives make ripples in the world, some small, some large, some hit other ripples and make them bigger. These ripples don't stop when a life does. You might never know when Aunt Rae's life touches yours, in a kind word, or good deed, or even just that feeling that, no matter what, you're gonna be ok but that doesn't mean they're not there. The magic of Rae Spivey's life was that she lived to love and be loved, and that love lives on in everyone who had the pleasure to know this extraordinary, kind, and wonderful woman.
Oh, and if you have any spare cash donate it to the Pancreatic Cancer Network...cause Pancreatic Cancer SUPER sucks www.pancan.org