Monday, June 14, 2010

“Blood Relation” Sounds Like Something Out Of Braveheart (3.27.08)

My daughters have a “Grandma Ruth” and a “Grandma Lulu”, although neither one is my mother. Mia and Eleanor have lots of young relatives that we call “cousins” and women we call “aunts. ” Those titles emerged out of love and for the sake of simplicity; the actual relationships are a little more complicated. My girls are five and three years old – I figure there will be plenty of time to clarify the actual bonds when they are older.

For now, Aunt is our name for special friends and relatives alike.

Above all, it is a moniker of affection. It adds a little specialness, and sparkle. “Auntie,” like “Grandma,” has such a sweet sound, the food industry uses it to name pretzels, pancake syrup, frozen sweet potato pie.

I beam when called “Aunt Cindy.” My nieces and nephews who start to leave off the “aunt” sound old before their time, our relationship less huggy, more handshake. Aunthood can be such a pleasure to have with children, and when I was childless, it felt like an easy pleasure. There was such fun to be had making posters to flash at the NFL cameras with Max and Paige, dancing at the American Idols concert with the Tallahassee nieces, laughing as Maggie and Chloe rode a 10-speed and a trike around our living room couch. All the fun, but I still got to put my feet up to watch Tivo at the end of the visit. It was like parent try-outs.

Now I have my own girls and I’m on the other side of the fence, appreciating the women friends who act like my girls’ aunts, aching over the lost opportunities for relatives who could be closer. My girls are too young to know the difference, but for me, it’s a lesson in patience, in tolerance, in gratitude.

Aunt Jeanne may not acknowledge or reciprocate birthday or holidays, but she still sends funny and sweet random emails that brighten an otherwise uneventful Tuesday. Aunt Nancy divorced my brother, but she has never paused in the love and affection she pours on my girls. Aunt Jan, Aunt Boo - how shall I put it? - love their nieces in their own way. And those who earned honorary titles are truly queens: Aunt Becky, Aunt Rena, Aunt Sally, Aunt Katie all rushed into loving and close relationships with my daughters and they are cherished friends to me as a result.

It's like the old saying, some are born “Auntie,” some achieve “Auntie” and some have “Auntie” thrust upon them. I'm glad for them all.

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