This week I paid tribute. My aunt died—the aunt of a famous chocolate cake, the aunt who loved people just as they were, not waiting for them to change, and, for me, the aunt of the chifferobe. In my memoir 𝘠𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭, I tell the story of the chifferobe—a little dresser, just my size.
My family was moving from Grantsville, Maryland, from the nest of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, from a large church and a close community. And we were moving to the city—to Flint, Michigan, where we knew no one, no one, at all.
The morning of our moving sale, I wandered around the yard, through the grape arbor and along the creek. People strolled in the lawn looking at our furniture. Then I saw my chifferobe. It had a space for hanging clothes on one side and drawers on the other side. Above the drawers was a mirror, just the right height for me.
This is mine, I thought. Why are my parents selling my chifferobe? I didn’t like the way people inspected it, opening the drawers and tilting the mirror. And I didn’t want to see who bought it. So I ran to the back yard where someone was selling hot dogs out the kitchen window.
I thought I’d never see the chifferobe again. But years later, when my daughter was born, my aunt invited me to her house. In a back bedroom, she showed me the chifferobe. She had seen my yearning the morning of the sale. And she had bid for it. And saved it for me. The chifferobe was her gift to my daughter.
“I love this story about Miriam,” I said to those gathered at her funeral. “It shows her generosity and her thoughtfulness and her graciousness.”
In these ways, Miriam had always reminded me of how Jesus lived—and of how I want to live.