My 93 (or 94?) year-old Aunt Edith, and I share a steady written correspondence. She sends me greeting cards for all major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday. I, in turn, send her 'Thank You' notes and postcards from my travels out of the country. It is very nice and old school. There is something about getting a letter or package in the mail that surpasses the feeling of an e-mail, text or social media update.
Last Monday, I received an Easter card from my aunt with a handwritten (always handwritten) letter enclosed on beautiful stationary (classic). It was sent to my old address and forwarded by the Post Office a few days late. Her cards are always early or on time. Her letter was written in response to the postcard I had sent her from my recent trip to Paris (and Amsterdam). She started the note by saying how happy she was for me, that I am able to take trips and "see other parts of the world." She went on to say that during her "travels Blacks [were] not able nor interested in other parts of the world." A nurse, by profession, she would save up her vacation days and "take a month off and travel over the U.S.A." Aunt Edith, whom at the time lived in Chicago (she later retired to her hometown of Gulfport, MS) was able to cover the West Coast, Canada and part of Alaska. She said she would compare the "different scenery".
Even though Aunt Edith is closing in on 100 years of age, which she will no doubt reach (our family has a history of living to the upper 90s; her dad lived until he was 111), she is still thinking of travel. "I would like to take one of [those] Amtrak tours out West, that would be interesting to sit back and see the scenery. Smile." An avid amateur photographer, she said she hoped I took lots of pictures. "So one day you can look back [and] remember 'I was there'". She ended the note with her usual "Love Auntie".
I got misty-eyed when I read the card. I truly enjoy traveling and take pride in my freedom to move around as I please. But her letter made me understand how important it is to travel. My Dad often tells me how when he and Aunt Edith discuss me and my latest trips, she tells him, "tell her to keep traveling while you're young. When you get old no one wants to travel anymore." In me she sees herself. She is able to witness the evolution of the world, where as a woman, a Black woman, I am able to go where I want to go and see what I want to see. In her, I see how golden life can be. In a time when a lot of African Americans, and women alike were not educated beyond primary and high school, she received her nursing degree from Howard University. She still drives herself around town and is an active member in her church community. She has no children and I am still not clear on whether she has ever been married or not, but it (from the outside at least) has never been an issue. Aunt Edith's life and encouragement inspires me. She makes me want to live free in both mind and spirit. She makes me want to travel more!
So in honor of my Aunt Edith, who doesn't even own a computer and who will probably never read this, here are some pictures from my Spring European holiday. Enjoy! P.S. Let me know what trips you have planned in the near future.
PARIS and PALACE OF VERSAILLE