What I Learned from Hedda

My great-aunt Mimi, Hedda, and me in 2014

I’ve written a lot about grief here on the blog. It’s a part of life, of course, though always a difficult one. Each time I’ve lost someone important to me, I try to honor the things that they taught me.

One of the women who had the biggest impact on my life was Aunt Hedda. She was my great-aunt Mimi’s best friend for more than sixty years and I always considered her my aunt. She was an incredible woman, personally and professionally. She taught me so much about the “fewer and better” things of life–moules frites and the best place to find them in the city; how to tell if clothes are well-made; what suits your body; defining your style. She is absolutely one of the primary influences in my sartorial outlook and every time I write a post I think about her.

It’s impossible to tell you the person I would have become if Hedda hadn’t been in my life. She always welcomed last-minute visits to her apartment if I happened to be in the neighborhood. She and my Aunt Mimi used to take me to designer showhouses and out to lunch after to talk about what I saw. She introduced me to some of my favorite restaurants. She was interested in what I was doing, what I was wearing, and encouraged me to talk about clothes, to talk through my style as I tried to define it. She was supportive and friendly and loving; the woman I’d love to be. She was someone I loved very much. She was Hedda.

Professionally, she was a powerhouse–a woman who completely changed an entire industry. Your life has probably been touched by hers, even if you didn’t know it. But to me she was always Aunt Hedda. She lived her life to the absolute fullest, even well into her 90s.

The last time I saw her was shortly before the pandemic. I’d had a meeting around the corner and had a little bit of time before my train; I took a chance she’d be in and went to her building. She was there, just on her way out, but she took off her coat and sat down with me for a few minutes. I gave her a hug when we parted. I don’t remember what we talked about–our families, probably–but I’m glad we had that last time together.

This is a bit of a rambling post, but this is to say–stop by, send a text, take the time to reach out to the people that you love. It’s a good reminder.

5 thoughts on “What I Learned from Hedda

  1. What a treasure to have such an inspiring person as such a close family friend. She sounds like quite the presence. Thank you Sarah for the evergreen reminder to stay in contact with those you care about and who care about you. This article makes me reflect on a number of such relationships I have been more neglectful of than I would like. Welp, Letter Writing Month continues… And maybe it’s Phone Call Month, too.

  2. What a lovely tribute! I was fortunate to have a few ladies in my life much like your beloved Hedda. They taught so much about entertaining, even if people turn up and you just order pizza, creating a welcoming home filled with art and beloved objects without feeling cluttered, the importance of listening to your own mind rather than the opinions of others, and the ability to laugh at yourself when things do not go according to plan. I miss them dearly.

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