My Last Aunt

My Aunt Giselle died Friday evening. I will miss her very much; she was a huge encouragement to me at several turning points in my life. I spent the summer between high school and college with her learning the basics of couture hand-sewing, a skill that has served me for life. When I decided to return to college and take the long route by going for an M.F.A. followed by the Ph.D., and even more improbably, as a single mom with two teenagers, she never doubted that it was (a) a very practical idea for me and (b) that I would excel. I still remember the neighbor across the street from me in that small Kansas town who, when I got accepted to more than one M.F.A. program and had dreams of teaching at a university, basically told me not to get too big for my britches, that much smarter people than me were more than happy to pick up hours at the local community college–and who did I think I was to believe I could write books and teach at a university? The affirmation I got from family at that time was so important.

Aunt Giselle, I’m listed on Amazon now, and you gave me the strength of spirit to do it.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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