A long-ago television commercial sticks in my mind. Some specifics I have forgotten - I think Florence Henderson was selling Jello - but I'm pretty sure of one of the lines:
"Treat Your Company like Family and Your Family like Company."
I had an aunt and uncle who always treated me like company. Aunt Agnes and Uncle Cecil treated me like I was a real person - not just some little girl who was in the way. Sometimes, on Friday night, I would get to spend the night at their house. Aunt Agnes liked to stay up real late and work on her "paint-by-number" pictures. It seemed like she was always working on one of these and it was always a painting of Jesus. She worked at the kitchen table. I would stand by her side and watch her carefully paint each tiny numbered section. A printed puzzle on a big board, tiny pots of paint, and Aunt Agnes' steady hand. She said many times, "I'll betcha this is harder and takes up more time than somebody just slinging paint on something without having a pattern to go by." She would paint and talk at the same time. Oh the detailed stories she could tell! I was fascinated and loved my visits there!
On Friday nights, Uncle Cecil liked to "take a drink". But he never bothered anyone like some people do when they get too much whiskey in them. Uncle Cecil had never learned to play a guitar, but on Friday nights, he would get his guitar out of the closet, put a Johnny Cash album on the record player, and sit on the couch, strumming the guitar and singing along with Johnny. I would stand by the doorway of the living room and peek inside, watching him enjoy Friday night.
I drove to Mississipi to see my aunt and uncle a few years ago. Uncle Cecil was in the last stages of cancer's ugly grip. The minute I got inside, Aunt Agnes started telling me a story, as though she had left off telling it yesterday. They had moved to Mississippi from Alabama many years ago, but I recognized so many things in this house. Whatnots, family pictures... Two things caught my attention at once. Two oil paintings hung on the wall. One was The Last Supper. The other was a portrait of Jesus. I said, "Oh my goodness - I remember when you were working on these!" And just as though she was still in that little kitchen with a paint brush in her hand, Aunt Agnes repeated what she always said over thirty years ago: "I'll betcha this was harder and took up more time than somebody just slinging paint on something without having a pattern to go by."
I cherish my memories of those who took an interest in me when I was young. I hope you have some good memories too!