A Mother’s Day Story – a Tribute to Aunt Margaret

Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499

She bought me boots.  I was 7 years old.  I was a girl. Yet she bought me boots.

It was 1958. Girls wore frilly dresses.  Boys were “boys”, and collected frogs. My family just had all our possessions turned to ash when our interim warehouse burned down, during our move from Tuscon to Seattle.  We had nothing left except a worn copy of Childcraft, a spoon, and a bottle of Vidalin, which we carrried in our car en route to Seattle.

Our lives were gutted, so each of us 3 kids lived with a different relative that summer.  I was the lucky one.  I got to live with Aunt Margaret.

Margaret was cool.  Her VW bug always stunk from the crab traps she carried in the front trunk – just in case the tides were right – an adventure always in the making.  She smoked.  She told raunchy jokes – most of which I didn’t get. But I knew she could make my dad laugh.  Even my mom, who rolled her eyes at four letter words, unless they were in one of Margaret’s jokes- then they were perfect.

Margaret was ribald.  I didn’t know that word then, but she was it.  Wild. Hilarious. Outspoken.  Passionate. Full of life, and full of joy.  And willing to be who she was, which was far outside of the box.

The summer I spent with her was magical.  My cousin Walt and I spent our days in the ravine next to their home, climbing trees, digging tunnels, making forts, looking for forest fairies, and hiding from bandits.

That’s why she bought me boots.  “Every girl needs a good pair of boots” she said as she replaced my little white pattern leather Mary Janes with something akin to construction boots.  “Now you are set.”  They were the coolest things I had ever seen… even for a girl.

You see, Maragaret was a Woman of Substance. She went for it. She was bold.  She was big.  She loved me. I loved her.  And she died at 52, but not before she impacted me.

Fast forward 30 years. I am now an aunt to over a dozen nieces and nephews. Some are perfect.  Some have difficult parents.  Some have issues.  But all are special to me.  All have lives I have tried to touch.

Many I taught to drive a sand rail… “Feather the gas as you reach the top of the dune.  Veer right, finesse the steering brake, and roll over the top….. that’s it.  Great job.  You gave it just the right amount of gas.”

One I cried with under the bridge when her Dad left her Mom.  “One day you will understand that our parents are just kids who grew up and never figured out how to handle a relationship… it’s not your fault.  You job is to do better in your relationships. Pick the right guy the first time.”

One I marvel over at her ability to capture light and shadow with her photographs.  She’s amazing.

For another, I remain a bridge to his deceased father, who was my best friend…. my brother, who died way too young. He’s growing into an amazing adult. So hard working.  I’m so proud of him.  I tell him so.  I tell him I love him every time we talk.

I taught one to make videos.  How to edit.  Weekends on my Mac, trusting him at 10 years old with my $900 video camera, and my $2,000 computer.  Filming my cat as it wonders the house.  Showing him how to sync up the music.  TNT, it’s dynamite…” What copyrights mean.  We talk about life.  About friends. About yelling moms and college.  We talk.

Another I talk to every time life gets haywire. “I know who you are in there.  You will eventually make the right choice. Just know that you are trying on different behaviors now, but they are not who you really are.”

And always, I think of my Aunt Margaret, and how she taught me to be an aunt.  She taught me to care. To listen. To be involved. To speak my mind, and to be an advocate. A protector.  An Aunt of Substance. 

I know my Mom has forever missed her sister.  Margaret’s death, her only sister’s death, hit her hard.  But I wonder if she knows how Margaret lives on each time I reach out to one of my nieces and nephews.  Each time I get who they are.  Each time I care.

And it started with my boots.



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Your Fair Oaks Realtor for homes for sale in Fair Oaks and the Sacramento Area of California.... I'm your gal (Sally Dunbar). I'm occasionally knowledgable, periodically humorous, and always willing to tell you everything I know.  What more could you ask for?

Here are the newest listings for Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael, Gold River, and Roseville - all CA, of course.

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Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, SDunbar@GoLyon.com "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"


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Scott Baker
www.eHomeReports.com Coldwell Banker West Shell - Liberty Township, OH
Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area

I had a favorite Aunt as well. She was my mom's sister. We had a great relationship, she was simply the best. Thank you for stirring the memory.

May 09, 2010 02:50 PM #15
Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor
Conifer Homes - Buda, TX
If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow.


No here is a Mother's Day tribute post that's really unusual, fun, and worth the feature treatment!

May 09, 2010 04:04 PM #16
Tina Randler

Everyone could have used an aunt like Margaret and like you. So glad you are carrying on the family tradition. :) Happy Aunt's Day!

May 09, 2010 05:35 PM #17
Joyce Dawkins

Sally, I love your tribute to your Aunt Margaret and the way she touched your life.  Creating memories with loved ones is what family and friends are all about.  You made me think about my own great Aunt Margaret.  It must be something about the name Margaret that makes them adventurous and strong. My Aunt Margaret rode with me on my first long distance road trip as a new driver.  She made the 250 miles seem so seamless and fun. And, she showed me the way to go too.  My Mom passed on the trip (LOL).  Aunt Margaret's brother was Uncle Joe, they were as close as they could be.  My brother and I call each other, Joe and Margaret because of their strength, wisdom and love for each other.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful story!

May 09, 2010 05:42 PM #18
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Sally - what a beautiful story so sweetly told...  Everyone does need a great pair of boots and an awesome ribald auntie.  How very lucky for you to have had that and for your nephews and nieces to now have that in you.  Truly beautiful, dear, and congrats on the feature:-)

I would have very much liked to spend a day or a summer with your aunt!

May 09, 2010 05:54 PM #19
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

What a wonderful story & how lucky you were to have this aunt, and to continue giving to all your nieces & nephews.

May 10, 2010 01:24 AM #20
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Sally - What an incredible story.  My aunt who is my God Mother is one of my best friends and even though she lives across the country we still talk once a week.  She has definitely played a big roll in my life and my families life.

May 10, 2010 01:39 AM #21
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


Not blessed with children of my own, I do all I can to emulate your Aunt Margaret and her legacy you share with your nieces and nephews. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post on Mother's Day!

May 10, 2010 01:45 AM #22
Earlene Myers
Fleming Island, FL
Your Client Connection

Sally - great post... I think your Aunt Margaret taught you well!

May 10, 2010 02:33 AM #23
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Ed - You are right, Margaret could have used a little fluffing in the presentation, but that was part of her charm, as well.  When you say what you mean, you offend some people sometimes.

Ellen - We each find our niche in the family.  How fortunate for your family to have a creative niche filled.

Michael, Scott, Aaron, tina - thanks for stopping by.

Joyce... er margaret..... margaret seems to be a popular name for fun-loving aunts.  I had an Uncle Joe too... Margaret's brother.

Inna - Margaret was an awesome writer, and would have loved to have spent the summer with you as well.  YOU are an awesome writer.

Tina - I guess this is "what goes around, comes around" in action.  Plus it shows how we can influence others by our simplest, most straight-forward actions.

Michelle - How lucky for you to have such a great God Mother.  Talking once a week is amazing. good for you.

Irene - I bet you are an amazing aunt, what with dinosaur bone hunting and other adventures...

Earlene - thanks.  She did a good job quite inadvertantly.


May 10, 2010 03:00 AM #24
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

It is a shame to loose some one so close like that when they are so young.

May 10, 2010 04:57 AM #25
Kathy Opatka
Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches

What a wonderful story!  We all have our own "Aunt Margaret's".... mine was actually Aunt Margaret!!!

May 10, 2010 04:58 AM #26
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

Sally, thanks for a truly wonderful true life story about your Aunt Margaret.  It is a shame she passed so young.  My wife's mother passed at 48 suddenly out of nowhere.  Every mothers day is a reminder for her.

May 10, 2010 06:30 AM #28
Margaret Mitchell
Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty - York, ME
Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate

Sally - I LOVED this post.  I was named for my Aunt Margaret, who was in turn named for HER Aunt Margaret.  Everyone girl should have one and hopefully, grow up to be one.

May 10, 2010 07:16 AM #29
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

I am loving how Margaret is such a fun name within families.  Apparently it comes with a spunkiness that impacts nieces and nephews.  Way to go to all those Margarets out there!

May 10, 2010 10:43 AM #30
Connie King
Sevierville, TN

Thank you for sharing this touching story.  Magaret sounds like one of a kind.   As an aunt,  but not a mother myself,   I try to impact my dear niece's life in only the best ways.   We may never know how far reaching our words or gestures may be.   Your nieces and nephews are blessed.

May 10, 2010 11:42 AM #31
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

This is a wonderful story, and how wonderful that you are giving back and honoring your Aunt Margaret by doing so.

May 10, 2010 06:38 PM #32
Paula Swayne
Dunnigan, Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715 - Sacramento, CA
Realtor-Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park -Dunniga

Hi Sally!
I think you got more that a memorable summer out of Aunt Margret...I think you got a lot of her personality too!

May 13, 2010 03:46 PM #33
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

I thought of you and Aunt Margaret on Saturday, Sally. My brother & his family came to our new farm so I could teach the kids to fish.  Brian took 5 year old Ryan to pee in the bushes and 3 year old Juliana wanted to do the same. Her mom said "Girls go in the house" but Aunt Irene provided the outdoor option for girls. My niece now has a cool new skill and I remembered your Aunt Margaret!

May 28, 2010 01:53 AM #34
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Irene - I love it.  those little special skills can stick with you for a lifetime. Aunt Margaret must have been more lacking than I thought, however, as she never taught me how to do that!

May 28, 2010 02:30 AM #35
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