I was thinking of my Aunt Lois this afternoon. She is one of my favorite aunts. (Do I still use present tense, even though Aunt Lois passed away a while back? I do not know; she is still a favorite.)
Aunt Lois was a great aunt, (in terms of generations), if that matters. When I was really young, my mother suggested I write to Aunt Lois in Pasadena and make her my pen pal. Why my mother suggested that I do not know (but I am seeing my Mom next week and I shall ask her!), but Aunt Lois turned out to be a terrific correspondent, teacher of the world's graces - art, geography, music, history. So many postcards from abroad and letters from her would refer to something out of my Oklahoma grade school scope, and in parentheses, she would admonish: "Look it up!" And I would. Aunt Lois taught me a lot about a lot.
Aunt Lois grew up in a teeny tiny town in Oklahoma called Deer Creek. (So did my Dad, her nephew.) Aunt Lois had thirteen siblings. Thirteen really successful-in-life siblings. One should not dismiss large families or small-town living, by this account. When Aunt Lois finished college, she moved to Wyoming to teach at an Indian school out there. The people in the small town where she taught built her a small house. I bet they were grateful just to have a teacher. But let me tell you, they hopefully thanked their lucky stars to have my Aunt Lois out there teaching their kids. She was a pretty wonderful person. Witty and funny and smart and well-read.
What made my think about Aunt Lois today was her great-great niece Gillian. My daughter. Gillian sent us pictures today of her final days of teaching English in Qinghai, China - in the Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
The Graduating Classes
Of the monks, she says, "the graduating monks... they all look so serious in this picture, but they definitely weren't that way in class!"
When I saw these photos, what popped up in my mind was, "Her grandkids are going to LOVE seeing these photos someday!"
And I loved seeing that Gillian wrote both English and Tibetan on the chalkboard. I imagine her Tibetan improved as much as her students' English.
And so: from a generation teaching at an Indian School to a generation teaching at a Tibetan Monastery: I like to think Gillian and Aunt Lois would have hit it off tremendously.