Everyone has an inspiration. I could name so many over the years, but my first inspiration was my great aunt. Her name was Lillian Bailey. We called her Aunt Daddee (pronounced Day-Dee, though I’m not quite sure if it’s spelled Daddee or Dadee).
She was a writer. She entered tons of jingle contests and won a fair number of prizes. She was a genealogist and tracked the family history all the way back to the Revolutionary War through the mail (during the 1950s and 1960s). She was a nurse in the early part of the twentieth century and was one of the first people in the state of New Mexico to receive penicillin. She was a sister who took care of her siblings (my grandmother was born when Aunt Daddee was already 18 years old).
And she was a storyteller. When my family moved to the town where she lived, my brother and I would occasionally go over to her house. She made the best tacos I’d ever tasted. After dinner we’d go back to her room and she’d tell my brother and me amazing stories: The Little Match Girl, How the Tiger Got Its Tale, and so many others. I didn’t even realize the stories were written down. All I remember was Aunt Daddee taking me into a world of imagination, where I was warm and cozy and loved.
She also told me that I was a storyteller. One summer I went to Camp Fire Girls’ Camp. I was SO lonely and the week seemed like a month. I wrote to my Aunt Daddee describing my agony with tear-stained letters. I still have her response…she told me that my words evoked pictures in her head. She told me I had a gift for words. And I believed her.
Because of this and so many other reasons, I dedicated my second Montgomery Justice book to her:
In loving memory of my wonderful great aunt, Lillian Bailey, the original storyteller. For special moments filled with spicy tacos, a warm feather bed and fairy tale after fairy tale. Though I lost you too soon, your generous and beautiful heart gifted me with the love of story and the belief I could tell one. I love you, Aunt Daddee. Each word in my stories is laced with your inspiration.
This picture is an Easter dinner. Clockwise starting from the bottom left is my Aunt Daddee, me, my mom, my grandmother and my little brother. A wonderful memory! I am so lucky she was part of my life.
Do you have someone who inspired you? I hope so. If not, maybe you can inspire someone else. I think this world could use more hope and inspiration. Don’t you?