by Joan Clayton
My earliest memories of Aunt Mary are those of smelling her cornbread sticks baking in an old wooden stove. The smell of wood burning whetted my appetite on those cold frosty nights. I can taste those piping hot cornbread sticks smothered with butter even now. Aunt Mary put an extra ingredient in that recipe. It’s called “love.”
After supper, Aunt Mary helped me make paper dolls. We made all kinds of stunning outfits out of her scraps of material. Aunt Mary was an expert clothes designer in my memory. Her paper doll fashions were surpassed only by her unselfishness, time, and the making of good memories for me.
An outstanding memory included the making of my wedding dress. As a young bride of nineteen, the world was mine. I was marrying my handsome prince to live happily ever after. Dear Aunt Mary came to stay with my parents and me so she could make my wedding dress. She brought her sewing machine along with beautiful satin material with yards and yards of white lace.
Far into the night, I could hear the whir of Aunt Mary’s sewing machine. Her days were filled with fittings and delicate handiwork.
As I stood before the mirror for the last fitting, I asked, “Aunt Mary, why are you spending so much time working so hard on my wedding dress?” “To be happy,” she answered. “Make someone else happy and it will leave a good memory.” That was all she said and she went back to her sewing.
Aunt Mary must have been extremely happy on my wedding day, because no one could have been happier than I was. I felt like a princess as I walked down the aisle in that beautiful dress she had made with love and sacrifice.
My handsome husband-to-be gasped when he saw me coming down the aisle with my dad. As I stood beside my handsome bridegroom, he whispered “You are beautiful!”
Though yellowed now by age, Aunt Mary’s stitches of love on my wedding dress have left an indelible memory upon my heart.
“To be happy, make someone else happy and it will leave a good memory.” I call that “Aunt Mary’s wedding blessing.” She gave me the secret of life in one sentence. That blessing has proven true throughout my marriage. It has proven true in the rearing of three lively boys. It has proven true in all of the relationships in my day-to-day living.
Like Aunt Mary, I discovered the happiest people are those who make good memories for others. I call it a “Kingdom secret.”
Over the years, I have noticed Aunt Mary’s secret working in the lives of others. The happiest people that I have ever known are the ones who are thinking of someone else. These people are healthy—spiritually, mentally, and physically. They derive this strength from Jesus, the giver of life.
Jesus voluntarily laid down His life to redeem mankind. That is unselfishness in its purest form. He died that we might live.
Jesus said: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). For me, that translates as Aunt Mary’s secret: “To be happy, make someone else happy and it will leave a good memory!”