Welcome to the Proof of Life journal entry series.
Writing more in general, and specifically with you, is something I hope to continue.
Like many of you, life has become clearer over the past few years and there are many things I have dropped along the way that I deeply desire to pick back up. In turn, there are things I never want to pick up again.
From the very beginning, I have always felt like we are on this journey together and I can’t wait to hear what proof of life will come to mean to you.
The older I get, I am noticing that some memories fade away and others rise to the surface. So much no longer feels like a big deal or worth pursuing and the simplest things now are precious and everything.
I think more about how I want to love people, honor them and support those around me. I have fifty years of people doing those things for me and as the years go by I realize the impact when we are seen by others.
As far back as I can remember, I would get beautiful books at Christmas time from my Aunt Beverly and Uncle Hadley. Books on art, poetry, science etc. I have every single one of those books to this day. They were gifts of substance.
When I was in early high school I was obsessed with fashion. Those were the beginning desires of going to design school, moving to the city, runway shows, and creating what I could dream up. I was inspired by the old movies I would watch with my mom on the weekends and I was constantly drawing designs based upon the styles from the past.
We didn’t have cable TV in our home growing up, so when my Aunt Beverly and Uncle Hadley heard about my love of fashion they made me an offer. Every week they would record Style with Elsa Klensch on a VHS tape. When the tape was filled they would send it to me in a custom made wooden box that fit the tape like a glove. They always had a tape going and once I was finished watching one I would send it back to them in Montgomery, Alabama and they would send me the new episodes to Illinois.
Back and forth this went. I honestly don’t even know how long that wooden box was mailed across the country but now as an adult I am humbled by their seeing of me. Humbled by their conscious decisions to love me well in a way that said we will make sure to set timers, press record, go to the post office and do it again and again and again.
I still have that wooden VHS box. I keep it as a reminder of their love for me and the love I want to show others. Do I see people, truly see them enough to be inconvenienced to love, honor and support them again and again and again?
Do I see those things in others that are not at all important to me or do I only acknowledge those things that I honor?
Thank you Aunt Beverly and Uncle Hadley for seeing me. Your loving me in this way is a treasure from childhood and every time I extend that same love to others, I know I learned it first from you.
I would love to hear who in your life really saw you while you were growing up or even now!
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Lovely story about your aunt and uncle. My grandmother and I had a special relationship. She was my inspiration. A Renaissance woman, ahead of her time. She was a well-known artist- painter and sculptor in Detroit. She made all her own clothes, knit coats and dresses, well the list goes on. A world traveler and gardener.
Every summer I would spend a month with her.
Just on the side, the world’s worse cook!!! ever! lol
I grew up in an era (60’s) where parents didn’t compliment their children much for fear of them getting a big head.Heaven forbid ! Well one of my earliest memories was of my Uncle Bruce letting me put a bandaid on his cut. He raved about what a great job I’d done and what a fabulous nurse I would be some day. That was one of the few times growing up I felt I’d been seen! They are indeed small but mighty memories! Thanks for sharing Jeanne.
That is so beautiful that they did that for you! Love this story. ♥
A true treasure of love in great measure.
Our family friend Jeanette made the biggest impact on me… to this day I strive to be someone’s Jeanette.
How inspiring!!! Now you got me praying to be the Aunt Beverly in the lives of others…to see and nurture what God has placed in them. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory.
Because I cannot think of anyone in my childhood or teen life who saw and nurtured my giftings, I choose to be that for others.
I want to be that too!
I love your story of being a fashion stylist – and most of the time we see u in overalls. In some of those years, we figure out what’s really important in life.
Wonderful to have dreams but recognizing the people in our lives to share multiple talents is so much more important.
My grandma and I were really close. She wasn’t only my grandma, but also my Godmother (I was baptized catholic as an infant). She was an incredibly woman, tiny and German with a thick accent and no fear of speaking her mind. She was a creative, like me, and taught me to crochet when I was young. She was an avid gardener as well, and thanks to the memories of her beautiful garden, I also have a deep appreciate for flowers, both wild and garden grown.
Now, I had a lot of cousins, and my grandmother loved all of us dearly. She would always make sure to stock up her cabinets and fridge with each of our favorite snacks. My sisters loved canned Chicken A La King! But my favorite was toasted rye bread with margarine and jam.
Sure wish I could eat bread now!
Thank you so much for sharing this!
Jeanne, I so loved reading this. I was also deeply infatuated with fashion design before I found my final love of Interiors. I enjoyed reading how your aunt and uncle honored your passion by sending you clips on VHS. That is the sweetest. I want to say, you bring so much beauty to my life in your writing, your art and your just Being You. Thank you.
I love you! Thank you! You do the same for me!
I loved hearing how you began being seen for who you would become. I’m not sure I have ever had that experience actually. The one person that saw the creative light in me was my paternal grandmother and she passed away when I was very young. On occasion in my troubled nomadic life, I would cross paths with someone that gave me a spark of insight. I think my whole life has been, me trying to light my candle and everyone in my life giving me soggy matches. That’s not to say that my own determination has not been influenced. My maternal grandmother was the toughest, meanest, most driven person I’ve ever known. She never had a supportive nature… more of a “survived the Great Depression and raised 15 kids and buried 4 husbands” kind of mentality. I saw how walls had been placed in front of her over and over and she still kept going… she lived to be 92. I painted a still life for her once and she barely said anything to me when I gave it to her. I didn’t get my feelings hurt… I expected nothing. Weeks later I went to visit her and she had put my painting on her dining room table… the center… that was “the” place that everyone congregated when they came in. When I say everyone… my grandmothers small house had people of all generations coming and going all day every day… she had boarders. I figured that if my leather skinned, tough as nails, never a kind word, Grandma saw value in my artwork… I would just keep going.
Thank you for sharing this!
What a beautiful story! It has prompted me to send of a note of gratitude to my own aunt and uncle for ‘seeing me’ in a special way when I was in high school. Thank you for constantly inspiring us, and in so many different ways!
I love this!
My home life was chaotic and as a result I learned to become invisible and try to fade into the woodwork as much as possible. No one noticed that by the time I was starting third grade I couldn’t add, subtract, or tell even basic time. My third grade teacher Mrs Richtenwald at Whittier Elementary saw me and reached out to help. Her patient, gentle words brought me out of the woodwork to see what all these numbers might mean. Day after day she worked with me and built some confidence in my soul. I will never forget her and I went on to become an elementary teacher.
What an amazing teacher! Think about all of the teachers that truly see the unseen kids!
My self was hidden and protected growing up. I think I am only beginning to find what things I might be now at age 54. Perhaps being seen will happen in my future. This blog has given me much to think about. Thank you.
Praying the same thing for you!
I loved your story about your aunt and uncle. I had a cousin who was older than me and had kids my age. She saw my love of unicorns and beauty and went out of her way to gift me unicorn jewelry boxes, etc., every birthday and Christmas, even though we didn’t have the money to give her anything in return.
Thank you for taking the time to share this!
My dad was one of the very quiet types. His jokes were the ones you had to think about because he never let on HE thought they were funny. The driest sense of humor ever so full of whit. One day I stopped by his work on my way home from school. The “guys” were trying to pull a joke on me and enlisted his help. He got a bit serious and said” sorry I don’t lie to my daughter”. Even for a silly joke he would not go along. That one statement taught me so much about telling the truth (and my dad).
Your day sounds amazing!
My Mum was the most precious woman I will ever know. Born out of wedlock in 1915, abandoned by her mother at 18 months old, taken by the Dr Barnado’s Home people when she was 18 months old suffering from malnutrition and lousy, she had an unloved life until she met my Dad when she was a working girl. Mum was English and Dad was Welsh. War broke out and Dad was sent off leaving Mum with my older brother and sister and three baby boys…twins who died at a few days old and a stillborn…to whatever would come their way. He was acting major at war’s closing days and was privy to secret information that any soldier who stayed on for at least 6 months after the war could get assisted passages for them and their family to a colony of their choice. Mum was devastated that he wasn’t coming home but understood his plans when he could finally tell er! She packed up the family and they met Dad in Port Said on the way to New Zealand where myself and my younger sister were born. At last they were together and safe! But in 1957 Dad suffered a brain haemorrhage at work and died 2 months later, having been transferred to different hospitals twice.
I don’t remember an unhappy Christmas ever, even though he died in November, and Mum was an amazing Mum. She always saw her cup more than half full and although she must have felt so alone a lot of the time, we only experienced her love for us.
What a stoic woman! She taught us that people are more important than wealth and to surround ourselves with positivity. Thank you Mum xxx
What an incredible woman!
I loved your story, Jeanne, mine was just the opposite. I cannot ever remember being “special” to anyone, least of all my parents; my childhood was traumatic to say the least. But I do remember my paternal Grandfather showing me things in nature when I was 5 or 6 years old, taking a keen interest in me, then later, my maternal Grandmother letting me live with her when I was 15 during the school year while my mother and siblings were in another state. I had asked to live with her that year, because of the atmosphere in my mother’s home was not conducive to survival, but I couldn’t stay with her longer than that school year, and I was back in the “war” that was my mother’s home. After a few months there I ran away at the age of 16, finished my high school early at the age of 17 and got a job (I had to lie about my age because of getting out of high school early). My life was lonely and hard, but not like living with my mother. After many years, her life changed, and we grew closer and had a better relationship. I forgave her for the way we lived when I was younger and was at peace with my life. And I still am…Bev
The world is so lucky to have you and the forgiveness you offer.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and all the comments. What a treat and very inspiring! Thank you.
Thank you! Me too!
I just love your story about your aunt and uncle, Jeanne! It has made me stop and think of who I might be a blessing and encouragement to in this way of “seeing”.
Me too! Thank you!
I grew up with very reserved parents who didn’t get on with each other.
Dad worked hard and Mum was the homemaker.
There were five of us children and I was in the middle, two older brothers and two younger sisters.
The person who really ‘saw’ me was my art teacher in secondary school. She encouraged me, praised my work and even entered my paintings into a competition.
She encouraged me to go to art school but it wasn’t to be, this was in 1964 when it was unheard of for people like me. She did however find me my first job at the age of 15 as a photographic assistant in a studio/art shop. She lived to 101 yrs old. I will never forget her. Thank you Mrs Grundy.
Mrs. Grundy! Thank you for sharing this!
Such a beautiful story and a reminder that the smallest efforts can contribute greatly to someone’s life.
i had a teacher that had a box in the classroom and she invited the students to write letters to her about anything that might be going on in their life and she would write us back very discreetly. It was kind of a life saving act for me and many students I’m sure to have someone you could confide in during those tumultuous years of high school.
What an incredible act of kindness and intention!
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. My mom drove me to many classes, rehearsals, performances, competitions, games, concerts, and I could go on. I think it’s one of our highest callings as parents to foster the passions and talents we see in our children. My mother did it well and I strive every day to do this in my child’s life even though she’s 28 now. Everyone needs someone to believe in them.
Beautiful and thank you for taking the time to share!