The Wisdom Series: Be Who You Are

February 14, 2019

This is the second week of our new blog series called, “The Wisdom Series: Sharing the Deep Truths of an Elder.”  I got this idea from a recent book that my publisher, Loyola Press, released called Sharing the Wisdom of Time, a beautiful book celebrating the wisdom of our elders. This series is in honor of my grandfather, whose wisdom was featured last week here. We continue the series with a guest post written by my friend and colleague Kathy Powell, sharing the stories, truths, and wisdom from her Aunt Marilyn. Read my full introduction to the series here and then follow all the stories at #SharingWisdom.

Teenager Kathy with Aunt Marilyn.

In the middle of my 10th grade year, my family moved from Colorado to Florida. It was an identity-shaking development that I was not thrilled about. The one shining light as I saw it, since teenager me was not impressed by going to school across from the beach, was getting to see my Aunt Marilyn more often. My aunt was a woman who had a strong sense of self and at a time when I certainly needed that example, she was an easy hour-ish drive north of where we had moved.

Her husband, my Uncle Louis, and one of my dad’s older brothers, died in 1994 when I was 11. Though I remember him, I knew Aunt Marilyn best and she always held a special place in my heart.  Her strength and loving steadfastness were incredibly attractive to a newly-transplanted teen.

From ordering Coors Light in a chilled wine glass to stepping out on her own schedule to smoke a cigarette, my Aunt Marilyn had a balance of being unapologetically herself without being arrogant. She was who she was. You knew what to expect from her and she was an unwavering presence.

When I walked into Aunt Marilyn’s house, there was no long small talk. I didn’t have to explain myself or give detailed updates on how I was doing. I could just be me and sit at the table to help her make her roasted red peppers. For a rather simple side dish/appetizer/condiment, there are a decent number of steps to good roasted red peppers and Aunt Marilyn made the best. It was a labor of love that you had to commit to – your hands would end up red, wet, covered in bits of the charred skin you had to remove, and radiating garlic from peeling and cutting such a glorious amount.

For my Confirmation, where she stood as my sponsor, Aunt Marilyn gave me small gold hoop earrings. She liked giving me small gifts and said that I should have a good pair of gold earrings. In retrospect, the earrings seem like a good representation of her; strong, classic, not bending to trends, and always there.

The wisdom my Aunt imparted was a strong,  “Be who you are and that’s enough.”  She lived the “You do you” mantra way before it was popular slang, with a natural shrug of, “So? Who cares what they’re doing?” That is wisdom that teenager me needed to hear and adult me still needs to be reminded of today, even when she is no longer with me to show me or tell me.  Maybe you need to hear it today too!

Go Deeper?

  • We want to hear your memories and stories! Tell us about your elder and their wisdom or share your wisdom with us. To submit your own story to be featured on social media /or my blog during the “Wisdom Series: Sharing the Death Truths of an Elder,” click here to access the Google Form.
  • Loyola Press is offering 25% off Sharing the Wisdom of Time through 3/15/19 when you use promo code 5041.
  • Follow #SharingWisdom on social media and read these blogs that are also celebrating Sharing Wisdom: and The Catechist’s Journey.

Cultivating Space for God Together:

Kathy, a big-picture thinker and passionate nonprofit and faith-based communications professional, lives in Roswell, Georgia with her husband Kent and three children. When not brainstorming up new ways to push Becky out of her comfort zone, Kathy spends her free time reminding her kids to use their inside voices, cooking without recipes, and walking with families who have lost a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.

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