I've been lucky enough to have been surrounded by strong women my whole life. I know I have mentioned this through several blogs before, but when I was younger I wasn't sure I really realized it. Probably because those women were protecting me from what exactly they needed to be determined of....
Regardless, my Aunt Eileen was definitely one of those women. She is the only living sister of my grandfather (the only living Great relative I have left) and is a mere 95 years old. After a very unpleasant first marriage my Aunt and her friend packed up a convertible and headed out west. Santa Monica is stopped, renting an apartment and securing a job at Santa Monica High School as an Art Teacher. It was there she met the real love of her life, Tom. They bought a remodeled a house just eight blocks from the Pacific Ocean. They traveled the world together, as apparent through her home's decor - and photography she took that adorns several walls and photo albums (she was a photographer for the US Navy's WAVES).
It wasn't until I was in high school that my relationship with her had started to blossom. When she heard of my interest in journalism and photography, she insisted I come live with her and work for the L.A. Times. Because in her mind I was just that good to land a job working at one of the best newspapers in the country. She would send me sections of the newspapers, or clippings of their photo stories. She would help a little each semester with $50 check to put toward books and cards of inspiration.
I didn't make my first visit to her house until 2009, but I've been incredibly fortunate to experience her spark, her stories, her love of life and generous hospitality several times since. She is remarkable in so many ways. Some days she recognizes who we are, but others we're just a pretty face that she'll constantly remind you of over and over. Either way, she hasn't lost that flair and quick wit that has always made her Aunt Eileen.