Dictionary.com defines a GENIE as "a spirit, often appearing in human form, that when summoned by a person carries out the wishes of the summoner."
Aunt Genie is our family's very own genie, the most accommodating one you could ask for. She has granted way more than three wishes and she lives in a much bigger place than a bottle. Her real name is Imogene, but she's been Genie for as long as I can remember.
For me she has always been a kind of magical presence since I was little. She appeared on our doorstep to celebrate birthdays, share our holidays, and add her special brand of kind and gentle goodness to every occasion. Somehow she always knew what I wished for and she would arrive bearing clever gifts, lovingly wrapped, with a thoughtful card written in her beautiful handwriting.
This weekend three generations of nieces and nephews are gathering to wish her a happy 85th birthday. 85!!! She looks mahr-velous!!! I wish I could be there to join in the laughter and fun. My cousins have offered to print out this page of my journal for her.
It seems like just last year I was taking pictures of her on her 80th birthday, when we shocked her with a surprise celebration at one of her favorite restaurants. The flowered straw hat she's wearing in the photo was one of her gifts -- in her favorite color, purple. I don't think she took it off the whole time. Except when the rest of us were trying it on.
If I have one memory of Aunt Genie that stands out, besides her love of purple, it's that she is always smiling, and her eyes have a sparkle like they were lit by some special light from within.
On the one hand, she is a blithe spirit, ready to laugh and full of fun.But throughout my life, she has also been a quiet, loving presence not only for me, but all of us, through thick and thin.
She was by my side on the sad day when I found out her oldest sister, my mother, had cancer. She was there to take my mother's place after my first daughter was born. We all have stories we can tell about her unwavering support whenever it was needed. These days she's always just a phone call, plane ride, or road trip away with a word of wisdom to share, a kind thought to impart, a wonderful story to tell, or just a good ear to listen.
Thanks, Genie, for giving me reason to celebrate your life every day. And twice as much today.
Happy Birthday. And much love.