today is my sweet aunt deb’s birthday. i wish i had a digital picture of her because i’d post it. not that a picture of her would be at all as great as getting to actually know her, but just the same, i’d post it.
the absolute polar opposite of her younger sister (my mom), aunt deb is like a second mother to us adelsberger kids. when we were younger, playing at her house was magical because she’d let us make a big mess and be out in the woods all day without panicking that we might get hurt or making us ‘check in’ (like my mom did) just to be sure we all still had our limbs and weren’t covered with blood. and by us, i mean my bro aaron and i are her three boys (matt – 1 yr older than me; aj- one year younger than me, and caleb- a couple of years younger than aaron)… we’d play all day…runaway or pirates or indiana jones..and make hay forts in the barn and just have the time of our lives. beth’s memories with aunt deb have more to do with baking in the kitchen and being allowed to make a huge mess in the process since by the time she came along, the fort days were nearly over and she had aunt deb largely to herself. even joe and josh, 21 and 23 years younger than i, are growing up with their aunt deb time. every friday they go to her house and play in the river and make messes and bake and take walks..only this time its not with her sons, but her grandson. still, their faces light up when they realize its FRIDAY! and still, they come home filthy and dead tired from hours of hardcore play.
throughout my life, when i think of the handful of people who have really left their mark on me, aunt deb towers over the list. she and i share a love for books and debating and getting fired up. as i grew older, i earned my place in the morning coffee discussions. some of my favorite times were being in our pjs, drinking coffee with the news running on the tv, and discussing everything about life and our family with my mom and aunt deb (and beth once she was in high school)
every year on my birthday, aunt deb gives me a book…its always used and she always scribbles a heartfelt message inside the front cover. although i have loved every book she’s given to me and read them multiple times, its those scribbled words in the front cover that have most impacted me. even sitting here right now, i could repeat- word for word- much of what she has written to me over the years…yeah, i have read them THAT MUCH. i can think of numerous times in the recent past when i felt like i was in a dark hole, and i would go dig out my copy of ‘the divine conspiracy’ and sit with her encouragement and see “the world needs you” scrawled across the page in pencil and just cry…because thinking of her love for and belief in me is like a beam of light, leading out of that dark place.
and you know what? i bet she doesn’t remember even writing that. and not because she did it flippantly, but because she takes the time to do things like that alot. my aunt deb is a master encourager. we sometimes tease that if you have a dream or an idea, the best person to share it with is aunt deb because she not only believes in it, but she will start dreaming right alongside you! she’s never one to poo poo on any parade. she’s creative and smart and passionate about life.
i just had coffee with her yesterday morning, but whenever i think about her and recount the things i love about her, i always think of how she looked one day about five years ago. i remember she had ridden her bike over to my mom’s and it was the summertime. she was full of some great idea and just beaming as she sat in my dad’s blue recliner and spoke. i don’t remember what she talked about that day, but i do remember thinking to myself ‘THIS is how i want to remember aunt deb forever’. she was wearing a bright, flourescent yellow wind jacket that pulled over her head and had a little white zipper that only went down a few inches. deb is always wearing either paint clothes (she’s a painter) or workout clothes (she loves to bike and run and is in tip-top shape). that day she had sunglasses perched on top of her head and her skin was darkly tanned from lots of time outside riding, gardening, running…her skin was tight over her cheek bones as she smiled. her beautiful, short white hair (i will never dye mine if it becomes that color with age) was glistening, her hands were clasped together, and her green eyes were dancing.
that’s the picture i would post for you if i had it. she was radiant in that moment- she being herself. and its embedded in my memory..
although my aunt is truly brilliantly smart and full TO THE BRIM with amazing thoughts and great ideas, proabably few will ever know her name. she really should write a book- i keep telling her that- but she hasn’t yet and maybe she won’t. there are a million large and small generous and wonderful things she had done that maybe only the closest of family will ever know about. she’s the kind of person who has put herself out there a million times to help others and has been a hurt as many times by people who didn’t get it or who were just willing to take advantage of her kindness. AND YET, she continues to do good…to love fully…to give…to care…
she is one of my heroes.
so here’s to aunt deb! i love you! happy birthday!