Ordinary Lives / Extraordinary Courage
A Tribute to my Aunt, Vivian Hart

by Dyan (Harper) Erdmann
(written Jan. 28, 2004)

Josephine Lidgard (Jay), my maternal grandmother birthed and raised three daughters:  a red-head, Vivian, and two brunettes, Helen May and Dorothty (my mother).

Vivian, my only living aunt, is a winsome widow at the age of 89, challenged with blindness and crippled by a terrible auto collision by a drunken driver one New Year's Eve, some 20 years ago.  She uses a walker.  Yet, she remains positive in attitude, attending the Los Angeles Symphony each motnh with her daughter Meredith, a California judge.  Although she can no longer revel in the riotous and colorful profusion of Colorado Spring wildflowers, she can still see beauty in music.

Vivi is the oldest daughter: a published magazine writer, golfer, lover of wildflowers anbd state parks.  She married a chemist (Hal Hart) from Missoula, Montana, who migrated to Whiting, Indiana's Standard Oil Refinery Chemical Research Laboratory, late 1930's-early 1940's.

They nurtured three children in Valparaiso, Indiana.  I, too, was nurtured by my aunt and uncle (Hal, now deceased).  They introduced me to National Geographic, the New Yorker magazines, novels, gourmet food and, for better or worse, fine white wine.  They gave me sterling silver flatware and hollowware as wedding gifts when I married at the age of 19.   I felt loved and affirmed by them. 

When my aunt visited me ten years ago for an afternoon tour of the Seattle Art Museum, I complained to her about being raised by my parents to work toward a 'State of Perfection,' she replied "get over it!  As parents of the 1940's-50's, we did our best!"  I took her advice that day and forgave them for enforcing an image of perfectionism on me, although personally, inwardly, I still struggle with the mantle. 

How is Vivi remarkable?  Although her red hair has turned to silver, she is smart, sophisticated, indomitable, honest, beautiful, wise and cheerful in the face of advancing age, physical challenge and aloneness.  A Woman of Wisdom.

I must remember this.

"Sail on, Silver Girl!"

Return to Vivian's photo page.