Bailey’s first rule of life is just because you can sing in that key doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The second is like thereunto, just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. I have frequently cited these rules as the creed I live by, and when it comes to issues related to my career and image I certainly try to. They’ve worked out well for me, but recent events have had me thinking about more important rules that I want to live by and where I learned them.
My Aunt, my mother’s sister, died recently and overnight my cousins, sister and I became the “elder” generation in that part of the family. It was sudden and none of us were remotely prepared. In spending time with my cousins I realized that while I had always thought of myself as my mother’s daughter, I am also my aunt’s.Traits that I thought were uniquely my own I have actually inherited from her. I suspect if you asked my cousins would say the same thing about what they got from my mother.
Aside from the fact that we all inherited my Grandma Carter’s high cheekbones it would seem that my six cousins (five girls, one boy), my sister and I have little in common. We lead different lives with widely varying interests and temperaments but that is just the surface. Underneath all that we share a pretty consistent way of looking at the world instilled in us by our mothers. They taught us to love fiercely, work hard, laugh often, and never EVER give up. They believed that this and good manners would get you far.
These women, my mother, Frances Terra Carter Winters, and my aunt, Elizabeth Lane Carter Pratt had presence, and character. You noticed when they entered a room and we have felt their absence now that they have gone. I still think wearing something flattering and singing in the right key is an important part of life, but because of the lessons learned from these extraordinary women I know that these things are much farther down the list. If I can follow their example of persevering with love, humor and grace I will have done very well indeed.