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Happy Auntie’s Day!

July 27, 2013
Aunt Julie has fun Barbie toys!

Aunt Julie has fun Barbie toys!

July 28 is Auntie’s Day, so Happy Auntie’s Day, all you women who love kids who aren’t your own. I’m thinking about how I was influenced by all my aunts—the blood relatives and my uncle’s wives AND the “adopted” aunts who were like family.

There were only three aunts on Mom’s side:

Aunt Ruth was maybe the best chuckler and the fastest closet cleaner outer I’ve ever known. She even did both at the same time. She chose a hymn for every day. I lived with her a couple of my college years and admired her more the more I knew her.

Aunt Roberta, Uncle Roy’s wife, our only aunt who lived nearby, dressed fancy and did fancy things like wrap our gifts beautifully with lovely bows and little sprigs or bells. More important, she was there for any family emergency.

Aunt Sarah lived with us for a while. She had cookies and hot chocolate ready for us after school and made time for board games. A minister for 40 plus years, she always wanted to help in every way, even when she was halfway bent over from osteoporosis.

On Dad’s side, there were so many aunts and uncles and great aunts that they got a little confusing.

I knew Aunt Celeste and Aunt Bert best. They were career women, not old maids, who lived together in a beautiful stone home with a lovely vegetable garden ringed with flowers. Aunt Ces stayed with us some after she had breast cancer. I can still see her, grimacing, walking her arm up the wall as part of her rehab. Somehow we discovered she hadn’t learned to skip as a child, so we kids taught a grinning, usually sophisticated Aunt Ces to skip down our long hall. Little Aunt Bert, with her cheerful, grateful demeanor, called everybody “Honey” and was a favorite in her assisted living place. “I don’t know the future, but I know who holds the future,” she said firmly. And she did.

Aunt Jane, the youngest of 11 or so, lived in the hills without a telephone or paved road and liked it that way. But when civilization started moving in with that paved road, she and Uncle Linc opened an antique barn and installed a phone in it. She must feel a little lonely as the only one left now, but she has more one-liners than a TV comedian.

The rest of the aunts were uncle’s wives, but when I was a kid, they were just aunts and I admired them all. Aunt Wendy, a war bride from England, was a nontraditional student before the term existed and became a school librarian. Aunt Bette was an artist and made the world’s greatest doughnuts. Aunt Floie came to take care of me when I had measles as a preschooler, bringing me a tiny motorcycle toy that helped me forget the pain. Aunt Bertice, a native of Arkansas, had the sweetest voice. Pretty Aunt Bernice, widowed when her boys were teens, soldiered on. I wish I’d known them all better.

Then there were Dad’s aunts. The most colorful was Aunt Leilah, who had the cane with the more-or-less concealed dagger, whom I’ve blogged about before.

And then there is the endless list of aunt-like women. The woman we called Aunt Kizzie hosted me on my first weekend away from home, when I was probably four, and she and Uncle Don even took me to see Abe Lincoln’s cabin. My cousin Wilma was more like an aunt and hosted my fourth birthday party just before my sister was born. I can think of other adopted aunts—Lois, Betty, Kathy, neighbor Jo, Lorraine and scores of female ministers and other friends.

All this reminiscing makes me wonder what my nieces and nephews and little friends will remember about Aunt Julie. Nephew Ben remembers the joyful, noisy indoor parade we had once—banging on pots and pans. He thought I wore sophisticated business attire all the time—probably even to bed. And I had a cool keyboard and provided the sound effects for his space movies….

Oh, being an aunt is such fun that I think I’ll call some parents and see if they need an aunt babysitter for the evening. Bye. And Happy Auntie Day!


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