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When my nephew was two, he (his mom and dad) gave me a picture frame that read: “Aunt: Like Mom Only Cooler.” Recently someone told me that I was a good aunt; it was probably the best compliment I could have received. You see, Aunts have been important characters in my life. They have been unconditional resources of hospitality, information, understanding, experience, perspective, inspiration and support.
My Great Aunt Rose celebrated her 90th birthday last month. There was cake, pie, ice cream, fried chicken and a barbershop quartet! She was in heels and sparkles and beamed all weekend long. The first snow of this season was on that mid November Sunday morning, the day she was born, 90 years later (she recalled that it snowed the morning she was born, too). I celebrated my 34th birthday the following week, on a Sunday morning, the same day that I was born.
As I reflect on my life to this point, the opportunity to be an aunt is one of my great privileges. I think about the aunts in my life and what they have meant to me. It is not that they are cooler than my mom, or necessarily blood relatives to my mom, but they are maternally special. I am proud to continue that legacy; I had (still have) good teachers. Of course my uncles are cool too, but that’s an entirely different matter.
running orchard rows
hay wagon toward the harvest
autumn fruit is here
hot apple cider
spicy pumpkin loaf baking
autumn treats are here
quilt on top of bed
grey clouds blanket sky blue sky
autumn air is here
Tomorrow is a big day for my niece (and her family); it’s the first day of Kindergarten! Earlier today we did things the almost-kindergartener likes to do: make bead crowns, read books, eat bread and jam, play library, shuck corn, pick raspberries, chase butterflies, and draw on the sidewalk. This little wonder has more heart and energy than she knows what to do with, and I am proud to be her aunt. She cannot wait for school, and we cannot wait to see what is in her future.
Last weekend I was privileged to join a special group of kids to celebrate my nephew’s ninth birthday, Italian soccer style. My sister put together a delicious pasta bar and festive cupcakes to match the theme. The evening ended with backyard soccer and ice cream cones! I became an aunt the morning he was born, and my heart has been growing bigger every day since. I wish so many things for him, including a life that continues to be filled with love and laughter.
On a Sunday afternoon visit to a rural one room schoolhouse, on the opposite end of the county from where my great-grandmother taught a century ago, I thought about how we learn, where we learn, and why we learn. I also thought about how fortunate I was/still am to be surrounded by a family of public educators. That legacy of a lifelong love of learning is not something I take lightly.