I shared this last year during Women's History Month. I originally wrote it for The Girl Museum two years ago. Aunt Sarah turns 100 years old today, so I thought I would share it again. I cannot be with her today, but I hope she knows that I am thinking about her and love her and that she was a very important influence in my life.
As a young girl, I devoured Nancy Drew books. I thought Nancy Drew was amazing. Not only did we share the same first name, but she was independent, resourceful and smart. I often imagined I was her.
In my small town, there was a used book store with a bookshelf that held nothing but Nancy Drew books. My great-aunt Sarah often took me there to choose one to add to my personal collection.
Aunt Sarah reminded me of Nancy Drew. She was independent, having never married in an age when marriage was one of the few options women had for security. She was resourceful, having taken care of her dying father while maintaining a career of her own. And she was smart, able to debate the most domineering men on any topic thrown her way.
Aunt Sarah showed me that women didn’t have to follow the rules of society and always do what was expected. She lived her life her way, taking less than ideal circumstances and making the best of them. And she loved me unconditionally.
I still have my collection of Nancy Drew books. When I look at them, I remember the two women who taught me as a girl that life is an adventure and the path that I chose to follow could be of my own making. They showed me how to define my own life, rather than let the circumstances of my life define me, and that is lesson I will always treasure.