Tonight, I lit a yahrzeit candle for the woman who raised my mother, my great great aunt, Betty.
Betty was, without a contender, the most glamorous "every woman" I knew.
She adored Elizabeth Taylor and when Elizabeth decided to age with grace and let her hair go snow white, so did Betty.
Betty was modest, both in temperament and finances, but she took great care of what she did have and every outfit she wore was carefully chosen and executed with grace.
Betty loved things that captured you; crimson red, leopard print, White Diamonds perfume, and things that shimmered. As a teenager, when my mother and I would visit Betty, she'd always compliment my hoop earrings (which was the ONLY kind of earring I could be bothered to wear between the ages of 14 & 17). I can't remember exactly how old I was when I resolved to buy her a pair of hoops for Christmas but I remember looking for a pair similar to mine, but smaller. When she unwrapped them that Christmas, she told me she loved them but that they were too small.
& that was Betty--she wasn't afraid to be gaudy, she wasn't afraid to be bold.
Even though this memory is the one that comes to mind most often when I think of her, what I'll remember Betty most for is her beautiful heart.
Betty was a dedicated mother--to her own son, to my mother. She went out of her way to provide for her family by any means necessary.
She wasn't afraid to laugh at herself. One of her favorite stories to tell was about how she once caught a glimpse of her ear in the mirror and rushed to the emergency room because she thought something was growing in her ear canal. The doctor took a look and found that it was just q-tip cotton. She loved that story and she could never tell it without laughing the whole way through.
Despite the fact that she didn't have much and that we'd protest, Betty always saved up to send money to my brother and I for Christmas and birthdays. Sometimes, she'd send it in quarters and we'd know how much love went into that gesture.
I can't think of a single mean thing I've ever heard her say, I doubt any such words were ever spoken by her.
When I got the news of her passing, for a moment I thought that the world would be a lesser place without her presence. But the more that I thought about it, I realized how amazing it is that someone like her was with us, and how amazing it is that I knew her and loved her and that she loved me back. I realized that people like her are magic here on earth.