A Good Comparison

As a general rule, I don’t compare myself with other people.  Comparisons are mostly depressing, since too often I don’t think I quite measure up to the other person’s talent, intelligence, appearance, etc., and immediately begin wondering what I should be doing to catch up.  And even if I do find someone who makes me look good by comparison, what’s the point?  Does that mean I can just coast along with a sense of superiority, smug in the knowledge that “I’m so much better than that person?”  I don’t think so.

Aunt MickeyBut there are exceptions to every rule, and one of them is my Aunt Mickey.  Technically, Mickey was my Great Aunt, because she was the wife of my Great Uncle Bud.  She was, without a doubt, one of the most cheerful and upbeat people and I have ever known, and was always one of my most favorite members of the family.  I loved visiting her house when I was a child, because I could always count on a warm welcome and a good time, not to mention delicious cookies.  Aunt Mickey just genuinely seemed to enjoy life and to like people, which of course, drew them to her.

She was also very honest, and as I grew older and our talk became more serious, I learned some surprising things about Aunt Mickey’s background.  From what I remember, she told me she and her two sisters were orphaned at an early aged and raised in a convent.  One of her sisters died there, a result, she said, of a “broken heart.” She explained that although the nuns provided for the children’s physical needs, they didn’t know how to love them the way a mother would, and that her sister was a sickly child.  Another time, she told me that being an orphan had often made her feel as if she didn’t really belong anywhere when she was young, and I wonder if that was why she was always so welcoming.  She knew what it felt like to be an outsider, and did her best to make sure no one else felt that way.  It was no surprise that when her surviving sister was widowed, Aunt Mickey and Uncle Bud converted their second story to an apartment for her to live in.

Aunt Mickey was my uncle’s third wife, but he was her first husband.  They did not have any children of their own, although both of them dearly loved kids.  My uncle was a unique soul, given to telling stories that may or may not have been true, but I never once heard Aunt Mickey correct him.  Nor did she complain when his health meant giving up their big old house with the grape arbor in the backyard and moving to a high-rise retirement building in a rather sketchy neighborhood.  After my uncle’s death, she lived there alone for several more years.  It wasn’t an ideal situation, but whenever I visited her, she was her usual cheerful self, and spent far more time asking what was going on in my life than she did talking about what was going on in hers.

So, when I do feel the need to compare myself with someone else, I like to choose Aunt Mickey.  Not because I feel as if I “measure up” to her, because I most certainly don’t.  But comparing myself to Aunt Mickey reminds me that I can do so much better when it comes to being grateful for what I do have, for remembering to enjoy life even when things are hard, and that happiness has a whole lot more to do with my personal attitude than anything else.  And that’s not a depressing comparison at all.


36 thoughts on “A Good Comparison

  1. The world needs more Aunt Mikey’s. My Aunt Carmen was my inspiration as well as many of my many cousins. I think some of it may be generational, which is not to say that there are not people like our Aunt’s around anymore. Just that we are so freaking busy with “life” that we forget to be caring people first and foremost.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree on both points! The world does need more people like my Aunt Mickey and your Aunt Carmen, and I think that sometimes we are just so busy now that we forget how important it is to follow their example. All we can do is make an honest effort to try!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the good ones, undoubtedly, Ann. I wonder if that is true, that one can, as it were, die of a broken heart, of a certain emotional emptiness? I have heard it said as much many times, and people seem convinced it is so. How terribly sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll never know, I guess, but my Aunt Mickey definitely believed it. I think the key might have been that she was a “sickly” child living in an orphanage, in that she wasn’t given the love and attention that might have helped her fight to live, but I’m not sure. As for Aunt Mickey, yes, she was definitely one of the good ones! Thanks for your comment…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. She is a wonderful example that we should all emulate. I always say that I won’t leave many worldly things behind, but I’d rather leave smiles & happy memories like your Aunt Mickey!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think every family should have an Aunt Mickey. It makes all of us feel better as individuals and collectively as a family. Your Aunt sounds like the real deal, genuine and happily engaged with life. What more can one ask for?..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an important reminder that those people we remember most with fondness and love are those who simply were kind to us and made us feel special, not necessarily those who accomplished great things with their lives. She sounds like such a lovely person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kim! She really was, just because of how she treated people. She was already retired by the time I came along, and I couldn’t even tell you what she did for a living, or what she looked like when she was young. But I do know how she treated people, how she appreciated life even though hers had been tough in many ways, and that I would really like to be more like her than most people I know!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I wish I had known her. She sounds, and your post is, inspiring. She reminds me of my favorite grandmother, who is my role model now that I’m a grandmother. But I know I don’t come close. Wonderful post, Anne. Also, I want to let you know (and don’t be annoyed with me please) that I nominated you for a game/thingy on my blog. Absolutely zero pressure to participate, but I hope that you will answer my questions on my blog. You’ll see what I mean if you jump over to my blog. I admire you, so there you have it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! She was inspiring, for all the right reasons!
      And thank you so much for the nomination! I have made a decision not to participate in any more blog awards or games, simply because I only post twice a week and want to focus on those posts. But I will be glad to answer questions on your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. I made the same decision and am breaking it with this one and one other to come in a week or so. Or I change the rules if I think they are too cumbersome. But I got a kick out of this one.


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