Friday, January 14, 2011

Mise en Place

The faces at the podium change but the message is the same. She is respected, fair, creative, funny. Coworkers extol her dependability, her honesty. Friends smile through tears about memories of jokes, kazoos, a good heart, true support. I feel like an eavesdropper but in the best way. I am both outsider and insider to her life, and privileged to hear her career lauded today. My aunt--who I know well as the thoughtful shopper, the effortless hostess, the creative cook and crafter, the dedicated volunteer--is being recognized at her retirement.

I applaud with pride and awe that I am a part of a family with so many models of what it means to be the right kind of person. The nuanced descriptions of her work history and friendships are, in some ways, a collage of traits I know well in my grandparents. Here is also a reorganization of what I see in my mom, a true sister piece: each diptych with its own fresh perspective and value, each sister living out this kind of integrity her own way. The praise for my aunt is well-deserved. She has touched all who she's worked with. She made a difference. I see my own career goals in everything she embodies at the podium.

Family is a salad bar of personality, values, and humor. Or perhaps it's a stew of the same, assembled anew and seasoned each generation to a different set of tastes. At any rate I'm thankful for the store of hereditary ingredients--they so clearly have been compiled to great ends in the generations preceding mine. I often consider how lucky I am to come from such honorable grandparents; what I see in my aunt today are the same qualities arranged in different order and quantity, equally admirable.

The luncheon is an affirmation that strong roots bear rich fruit, that one's greatness doesn't come at random. I feel like this is possible because it lies in me, too. Family matters. The lessons and the values we learn from family might look different as we each live them, but their common source ties us together. I'm proud that she's my aunt.


  1. You are one of the best writers... ever. I love this! I haven't seen any other movies. The theatre near our house does 5 dollar movies and one dollar popcorn on Tuesdays! I really want to see Black Swan!

  2. There's a trendy/fancy/expensive restaurant in Tampa called Mise en Place. At first I was like, WOW Heather's aunt must be somehow associated with this restaurant ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY. :) And then I Googled the title and learned that Mise en Place is simply a famous French phrase. Duh.