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Letter to the editor: Michael Clinton: An Ode to an Aunt I Barely Knew

"I now regret that I didn’t take time to be with her more as I grew older," Clinton said.
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Photo by Pars Sahin on Unsplash


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You’ve all heard the argument before. Why should I (fill in the blank) when I could get hit by a bus tomorrow?  The blank could be filled with “get a vaccine” or “stop smoking” or “eat salads”. 

Well, my aunt (in her 70s and a smoker) actually survived getting hit by a bus a couple of years ago, not without a lot of rehab though. It’s not surprising that this tough lady would not let a bus stop her, however she did sadly succumb to COVID in October and passed away. 

When I moved to Arizona after college I rarely saw her except for occasional holidays. But I can say without a doubt that she had a profound impact on my life. The first time I ever went camping, it was she who took me (my parents weren’t outdoorsy unless you count golfing or hitting the beach as outdoorsy). I still remember that first camping trip and the excitement of being outdoors at night … and the stars! I think I was around 6-years-old. I credit that trip with my eventual love of the outdoors that lasts to this day.  

The other impact she had on me was her streak of toughness and independence. When I was young, I knew of no other woman like her (my wife and daughter have this toughness and independence I can proudly say). 

Some in our family thought her an embarrassment due to divorces and a fleeting, artistic lifestyle. But time and experience has taught me that divorces only mean that you made a mistake and corrected it (rather than making a mistake and never correcting it). And an artistic lifestyle only means that one has followed their inner drive rather than exterior pressure from the world. 

I now regret that I didn’t take time to be with her more as I grew older.  I think there are two lessons here:  One, know that any time you spend time with a young person could be time that impacts that person for life; and two, don’t let time slip away before spending it with someone who you believe has had a positive impact on your life. 

RIP Aunt Susana!

Michael Clinton

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