There are many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving; family and friends, good health, my PVR, but what tops the list for me this year would be my Auntie. If you are lucky enough to have an Aunt that is your mother’s sister, you’ll understand what I mean when I say there is a special bond between this kind of Aunt and a niece.
This photo was taken when my Aunt was here a couple of weeks ago, and it gave me much pleasure to give her my favourite throw to wrap around her (a gift from her), while she sat in the sun in my favourite spot on the deck. I served her tea in the teacup I bought at Buckingham Palace, while she took a rare moment for herself, joined by Oliver who substituted for her Gracie.
I’ve always felt a strong kinship with my Aunt, encouraged by the fact that my mother would often call me by her name, and compliment me by saying “You sound just like Linda.” We have many likes and dislikes in common, and as a child I always looked forward to her Christmas presents each year. It wasn’t because they were extravagant, but because they were so thoughtful and always had a few neat little things included, like a bit of costume jewelry, nail polish and bonne belle lip gloss, or a special book mark - I still have one she gave me in high school.
Despite the fact that she once said that she didn’t think she was very strong, I think she’s one of the strongest women I know. Like the insect with the homonymic name of ant, my Aunt Linda has shown me over and over, that she can carry many times her own weight.
Her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her later years and thanks to my Aunt, my Nana was able to live in her own home almost until to the end of her life. So may times over the last few years of my mother’s illness, My Aunt stood in for my sister and I who live so far away; nursing her after surgeries, taking her to chemo appointments, staying with her to give my father a much needed break. Though they lived almost 1000 miles apart, My Aunt and my mother spoke on the phone several times a day. She was there for my Mom in ways my sister and I could never be and I can never thank her enough for that.
When my mom passed away my Aunt was a lifeline for my sister, my father and I, putting aside her own sadness to guide us as we stumbled through the unfamiliar steps of grief and funeral arrangements, always careful not to interfere but always there when we needed her. We would have fallen apart without her. I have to also thank my Mom’s brother and his wife who were also there with their invaluable helpfulness, strength and humour.
When my Dad decided to drive out west, sharing the driving from Kenora with my husband and brother-in-law, it was my Aunt who flew out, had a quick visit in Vancouver and Kelowna and was there to provide companionship, egg salad sandwiches and breaks for my father on the long drive back to Ontario.
My Aunt is a kind and generous woman, with a delight and appreciation for the little things in life. I was reminded of that on her recent visit when a waiter brought us a tray of lollipops at the end of our meal. She picked one up and as she unwrapped it she began to sing “lollipop, lollipop oh, lolli lolli lolli, ...” The waiter gave her an uncertain smile and she smiled right back at him telling him “Life is a song!” He smiled back at her and said “I know.”
Life is a song and my Aunt knows all the words: Help people when you can and be grateful for the little things. I thank her for teaching them to me and hope we’ll get the chance to sing them together in harmony, very soon.