There are many types of art that often go unsung. Personal work that transcends the ordinary – through skill, discipline, devotion, and utterly generous creativity. My Aunt Marian’s ornaments, for example. Every year, Marian Ruth Rutgers Cogsdill created an artwork for every member of the family, dozens, for decades. They were each special, and all amazing.
My holiday observances are tempered by ambivalence, including that it’s a kind of weird thing to bring an entire tree into your home. So it doesn’t happen annually, but in 2016, I wanted the ritual, and especially, the scent of pine. It was an odd but beautiful tree: the top was cut off, so it was a bit short, yet round and full and lovely. I carried this heavy thing home on my shoulder, crossing Coney Island Avenue, trudging to Buckingham, up the front steps, and into my apartment.
It was delightful unpacking my carefully stored ornaments, sorting through the boxes, unraveling tissue and bubble wrap to uncover these treasures, each with a history marking loved ones and moments. Took a few days to place the lights and decorations. It looked marvelous.
As for the story behind this post’s title? I always loved to talk with Aunt Marian, and one day, telling her how wonderful it is having a niece I really enjoy knowing, she smiled and said, “Yes. Everyone needs to have an aunt who offers unconditional love.” At egotistical first take, I thought she was referring to my relationship with my sister’s daughter, the lovely Megan. Then I noticed Marian smile a second smile and realized she was saying
I love you unconditionally. How awesome is that?
Original art by Marian Cogsdill (b. 1923 – d. 2007)
Unconditional Love © Catherine Rutgers 2018