Uplift Yourself and Go Forth

Epictetus, a Roman philosopher said "Keep company with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best." Do you find this true in your own life? Someone who constantly puts you down or makes you feel uncomfortable is not the person you want to be with often.

My mother had a cousin who was not very pretty or very witty. She was what you would call in the old days an old maid. Now days, an unmarried woman in her thirties or forties is not called that. She is called a business woman, a career woman or a single person. Back then she was looked down on and made to feel that she was not worthy if there was not a man in her life. This cousinís name was Rose and she was far from a rose. She was nice and had a job and supported herself in a decent manner.

She had a very wealthy older brother named Albert. He felt very bad that this sister of his was the only unmarried sibling he had. He had lots of contacts in the business world and one day, he met an unmarried fellow and he decided to introduce him to his sister. Well, they hit it off and we never knew if he struck a deal but before you knew it, mom, dad, my brother and I were invited to Roseís wedding.

It was held in the well to do brotherís big home and it was all laid out for a very pretty wedding. Rose and her groom Ron were married by a clergyman and a nice reception of delicious food was prepared. It was one of the first weddings that I, as a little girl of about ten years witnessed. Everyone in attendance was shocked that plain Jane Rose was a decent looking bride and her groom Ron looked handsome.

However, many in the room never referred to him as Ron or Roseís husband, they gave him a nickname of the "Cooney Lemel." Cooney not being known than as a nice name other than meaning something like a jerky person or a person of no worth. It did not mean he was not a nice person, it just meant he was a little below nice. I could not understand this being ten years old, he seemed pleasant enough to me and actually he was now my new cousin-in law. Rose and Ron lived long enough to celebrate twenty-five years of marriage and everyone said she owed her happiness to her older brother who introduced them and navigated the romance.

Many sarcastic relatives said that Brother Albert negotiated some money and real estate deals to entice Ron. However, I remember at the home wedding that Ron and Rose danced a nice waltz as their first wedding dance on the hardwood floor of Albertís elegant home. Rose had taken ballroom dance lessons in the hope of meeting a young man at that time and so she and Ron looked very nice dancing. I remember thinking that I would one day like to dance as good as the bride and groom did.

The name Cooney Lemel stuck with Ron, for no reason I can think of and when my dad passed away, mom said to call the relatives to tell them. She said "call Rose and Albert and the Cooney Lemel". I was shocked at mom because she was such a kind and gentle woman and calling Ron that was demeaning. She meant no harm it was just that he was called the name really for no reason. He was a mild man, unmarried and willing to start a new life with Rose and the way he looked at Rose, he really adored her. So there is someone for everyone, if only we can find that person. Rose was lucky to have Albert look out for her and she had a good life for many years and I heard that they liked to go out and ballroom dance at local dance events and so Rose and Ron were truly positive seniors way before I started my senior gold positive column.

Rose and Ron found their way to each other and to each other they were grand folks. I do not think Ron ever knew he was called the Cooney Lemel and that it was a derogative word attached to him. I liked Ron, he was always kind to a little girl who was his cousin my marriage and now that I think back to him, and he was a good dancer. So Ron was ahead of his own time, ballroom dancing, enjoying it and life and they even had a child late in life which was unusual in those days. You were supposed to try and have all your children by the age of thirty for the woman and Rose had her first and only child at the age of forty. Forty was quite old in those days and the little girl was healthy and happy and her name was Samantha because Rose and Ronís love of the Samba made the name Samantha remind them of the Samba.

When Samantha was five, they gave her ballet lessons and so the love of dance was given to their first and only offspring. Mom and I went to one of Samís recitals at the dance studio and Rose and Ron were so proud and no one in their right mind would ever call Ron a Cooney Lemel. The one who named him that (quietly) was the one who really was the Cooney Lemel, not Ron. Ron was good, decent, kind and did not deserve even quietly the name. So names mean nothing and nothing is named correctly by mean folks. The mean folks are themselves negative individuals who cannot appreciate the goodness in others.

Epictetus said "Keep company with people who uplift you." Rose and Ron uplifted each other because their presence called forth their best.


Elita Sohmer Clayman

March 2006