Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Auntie Jaquie

Filed in Stories, voices :: March 15, 2012

Sometimes a piece of writing exemplifies the beauty it describes.

This post by Illuminary is that kind of writing, part of a series called Nest-Making, in honor of women and Women’s History Month.


Anyone who tells you that you are shaped and fashioned by those who love you, only has half of it. I am here to tell you, the other half is “we are shaped and fashioned by those who love us, and those we chose to love.”

My odds bodkins collection of women friends are as different as each star. They have so little in common that someone once made the comment to me that they should very much like to come to my wake, just to see how the nun, the topless dancer, the farmer and the witch got on.

I can trace each of the women that have come into my life and stayed, back to one woman. She is my mom’s best friend, my Auntie Jaquie.

Jaquie was the first adult in my memory who accepted me.  She didn’t care if I was odd, different or in any way not like everyone else. She allowed me into her home from a young age, and always accorded me the respect that adults only seemed to give each other. She had this house, a little doll house, that was filled with the most amazing art. Her yard was a painter’s dream, with gardens everywhere and flowers always blooming in profusion. I can still remember my childhood fascination with her eclectic collection of  “stuff.”

I remember once asking her why she had so many different things. Why the snakes? Why the giant cactus looking thing and the funky chairs and stained glass? Her answer was simple “Why not?”  She liked things of beauty.

Her love of the beautiful was also, I would find out later, her bane.

I cannot recall how old I was when I began to notice her sadness and her anger, just buried beneath her surface. She always had a hug for me, and my mother if we were together, always full of laughter, wit and licentious sarcasm. I know that I asked my mother why we rarely if ever saw her husband. My mom would roll her eyes, and tell me she would explain it to me when I was “older.” When I was older, she simply said “he didn’t like us visiting.”

At some point in my life I came to realize that although he was a beautiful man, and still is, the beauty of him is only on the outside.

Why she has stayed with him all these years are her reasons, and I have not asked why. I believe it is her choice, and I don’t need to question it.

Her Choice did, however, convey to me in other ways.  She taught me to look deeper at people, to look below the surface of looks. She taught me to be respectful of the choices people make. We all do the best we can with where we start from. She taught me the value of  “authentic and real women friends,” women who see us, faults, oddness and all… And still love us, support us and don’t judge us.

She has the most generous and giving of hearts. She has this innate talent to find things that really fit and resonate with the person she is giving it to. I have music from her that I adore, plants, books and so many odds and sundry that she has given to me over the years. She is the person I have spent my life trying to emulate, in grace, generosity, acceptance of other people and my own shortcomings, in the “why not” philosophy, and in making my little shack a very sacred and beautiful space.

Truth be told I also think my hermit nature comes from her too.

I have always thought that one of the best choices I ever made was to love her, and one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given was her love.


I am a hermit, a termagant , and a marshmallow hearted fool. You have seen me in the eyes of your friends who love you, your mother when she is scolding you and in the stars when you look upward. I am the simplest person in the world, and the most invisible. I was born a crone, will die a maiden and it’s all good. I am called by many names but you can call me her. You know, “her.” That women over there. That’s me, I am her.

Illuminary blogs at Canopy in the Sunlight and tweets as @1little_light.


Looking for more nest-making posts? They’re here and here and here.

Filed in Stories, voices


  1. wholly jeanne

    this is such a beautiful tribute to someone who obviously knows, recognizes, and exudes beauty, and it’s decorated my day just reading about your aunt jacquie, someone you have the good sense to love.

    crack open the heart of beauty, and i daresay you’d find an eclectic mix – a treasure chest of things most people never even remotely associated with beauty – things like oh, i don’t know, witches, snakes, odd chairs, farmers, bottle caps, bees, colorful stained glass and maybe even glass bottles, flowers, rocks, topless dancers, sarcasm, wit, chickens, quilts, redhead dolls who are obviously pistols, and much, much more. at the heart of beauty, you’d find the ability to talk to anybody of any age and make them feel like they are the most special person in your life. you’d find the ability to see the best and the potential and ways to leave breadcrumbs to that best and potential in people of any age. you’d find the ability to love broadly and unencumbered. i ‘spect you’d also find some anger frothing softly just beneath the surface, too, maybe as fuel, maybe as just a part of life for somebody like this.

    for people who put on their beauty shoes every day, people who are eclectic and just can’t help it, it’s simply inevitable that they eventually find the stepping stones to a little dollhouse perched in a tree branch in a forest as far away as possible from the hubub and commotion because one thing’s for sure: people who know beauty this intimately, are, on any given day, a party of one.

  2. Debi

    no accident that you chose to love each other, that the universe pointed you in her direction. i like the idea that those we choose to love make a difference. it says so much about us. this says wonderful things about both of you.

    • Angela

      I agree, Debi–Illuminary and Auntie Jaquie are definitely mirrors for each other.

  3. Illuminary

    I Love the flower photo you put with this Angela! It’s wonderful! Thank you for this wonderful idea, the gentlest impetus behind my grace and gratitude.
    I am enjoying these so much!

    • Angela

      Illuminary, thanks again for this contribution, and for sentences like “gentlest impetus behind my grace and gratitude.” I don’t think you’re capable of writing anything that isn’t gorgeous!

  4. Mhairead

    I can see her clearly in my minds eye , how wonderful , she was the one who opened that chamber in your heart . We are blessed to have these ones who do so in our lives and who lead the way and we are blessed to have you.

    • Angela

      LVBugLover, Merry ME, and Mhairhead, Thanks so much for commenting and sharing in the appreciation of Illuminary’s writing and Auntie Jaquie’s eclectic brilliance :).

  5. Merry ME

    Is there anything better to do on a warm Spring day than read about women – eclectic, beautiful inside and out, maybe even a little odd – women? I do love most everything Illuminary posts so I knew this would be a good one. I’m sure there are many people and events that helped shape dear Illuminary into what she is today, what she gives and how she loves. I gotta say, though, Aunt Jaquie has got to be the kind of aunt every girl needs.

    P.S. I do hope it a long, long way off, but I hope I get an invitation to that wake. All those interesting people and Illuminary hovering over us all sprinkling love around like fairy dust.

  6. LVBugLover

    Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us all. It reminds me of someone that inspired me. I would have coffee with her at a place called the Ground Round. She helped me grown up and be someone I like being.

  7. Square-Peg Karen

    What a heart-touching post! Thanks for this, Illuminary (and ohmyword, I rarely need to look up a word, but I had to look up termagant – love when that happens!).

    • Angela

      I agree, Karen–termagant is a great word (and perhaps one to reclaim?).

  8. Bimbimbie

    Indeed, Why not? We all need an Aunt Jaquie in our lives and the need is probably greater to be an Aunt Jaquie if and when an opportunity presents itself.

    A heartfelt & thought provoking post Ilum*!*

  9. Alana

    I love this deeper glimpse into what makes you “you”…or her. Either way – the beauty is unmistakable.

  10. Sally_G

    I love your words and the way you express them. I love your bio and the way you permeate it with your Essence. I went to your website and loved that too. I feel quite indebted to Aunt Jaquie – thank you …

    • wholly jeanne

      i’m glad you two know each other now because you’re both special woman with a uniquely special Essence.