Sunday, April 8, 2012

Auntie Mae Brandt

My mother gave me one great gift in my life when she chose her very best friend, Mae Kelt, to be my godmother. She was the most vivacious, beautiful woman I had ever known and she, childless for most of my childhood, treated me as her own, the daughter she wished she had. I was the object of her affection and she always made that very clear to me. She knit for me, bought for me, baked for me and shared me with her friends and family just because she was proud of me. I vividly recall, to this day, almost sixty years later, an outing to New York City, a first trip to see the Radio City Musical Hall's famous Christmas show. I can't remember the outfit I was wearing but I do remember my high emotions. As she held my hand and we waited in the long line to enter the theater, I pretended she was my mother. Later that day, she treated me to my first trip to Rumplemeyer's ice cream parlor on Central Park West, the height of little girl nonchalance. I don't recall this, but she has told the story over and over as the years went by, about how sophisticated I was and how amused everyone was by my ability to order my confection. I have a feeling she was one very proud auntie, pretending to be a mommy.
There were so many birthdays and Christmases that were made so much more special for me by a doting Aunt Mae who always had just the "right" gift, the prettiest of cakes, cards and special birthday dinners. The memory of those times still gives me an incredible feeling, like a little child rapt in anticipation, over and over again.
Auntie Mae was gorgeous. Slender, well-heeled, beautiful hair and skin, a true Scottish lass who bore the pain of the loss of her equally beautiful Danish sailor bridegroom, just weeks after their wedding, with grace as she finally re-entered the single world. She was wined and dined by many a charming man, desired for her great looks, beautiful figure and adorable sense of humor.
If she had a heartbreak, I as a child had no knowledge of it. To me, she was a constant source of happiness and fun, fun, fun.
When she finally remarried Arthur Brandt and became pregnant with her only child, she did not abandon me. Richard, fourteen years my junior, became part of the nonstop wonder of our relationship. He was a perfectly beautiful child with a wonderful disposition, adored by all. Her joy was obvious as she now she had her own child to shower love, attention and pride upon. Never did she ever make me feel that I had lost my place in her heart.
Instead, I felt that Baby Richard made all of our lives happier and all of our celebrations richer and more meaningful.
Aunt Mae was there for me as I grew up, supporting my entrance into adulthood and cheering me on. It was she who bestowed the first string of pearls upon me. It was she who made certain that I would have a proper bone china tea set, hand selected by her cousins and sent to me all the way from their home in Scotland. It was Auntie Mae who made,by hand, the most beautiful of all the gifts my babies ever received. Items that are still held in special places, as lovely as they were when I had my first born, forty one years ago. Hands of gold produced sweaters that my granddaughters have only recently worn, still in perfect condition, a testimony to the quality of work and love that went into them.
I can hardly have a dinner party without being reminded of the gracious ways in which Aunt Mae entertained her own guests. The "Aunt Mae" china is used on my table with a lovely pink tablecloth, just as she used it before me. One day, my daughter will use the same set and hopefully, her daughters after her. I only hope that it shall forever be referred to as "Mae's China" and that it will cause it's present owners to have a moment to think about all the love and admiration that it has come to represent.
I also hope that my granddaughters will have relationships with their own godmothers. It's sad that my daughter lost her godmother, her Aunt Patty, before she graduated from college, years before she married. I'm comforted in knowing that Sara had a godmother who loved her in a special way too and, like my own godmother, can never be replaced.
My godmother died, peacefully, this morning.
Rest in peace, Auntie Mae and thank you for just about everything a little heart could desire.

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