Sunday, December 13, 2009

A loving example

My Auntie Mary passed away this morning. She was elderly, and had been in poor health for quite some time. I understand she was not suffering. I had not seen her in years, but she was in our thoughts at every family gathering.
She was one of two aunts left on my mother’s side. You see, she was my mother’s aunt, my great aunt. She was just Auntie Mary to all of us, however, and there were many of us. She was one of many children. Her siblings included Jim, John, Patrick, Siobhan, Nonie, and Tess. I am certain I have missed someone in that list. Now only Tess is still living.

Each of the siblings had at least a few children of their own. In fact, there are so many cousins on my mother’s side that I cannot name them all. I know Mary had Maura and Alice, but I know that she had others. Alice is not too terribly older than I am.

Tess had Jim, Kathy, Maryann, Theresa, Johanna, and Patty. Patty is several months older than I am. Patty is my mother’s first cousin. She and I graduated from high school together. My mother’s father was Patrick, also known as Patsy. He sired Stephen, Mary, Norah, Bridget, Kathleen, Hanna, and Patrick. Mary is my mother. Her brother Patrick is only seven years older than I am, and his children are close in age to my children. I have children who are older than some of my first cousins, and first cousins who are just old enough to have baby sat for my older children. One of my cousins is sixteen years old. She and my thirteen-year-old daughter get along really well. One of her older sisters is right between my older two children in age.

I am the oldest grandchild of my grandfather Patsy. My children are older that the children of most of my first cousins on my mother's side. Many of my cousins have very young children, and several are not old enough to have children yet.

This gives you some idea of the family dynamic. Anyone from a large family understands the challenges that trying to keep track of all the nieces, nephews and cousins brings. Auntie Mary always made you feel like you were the most special child to ever walk into her home, which is no small feat when on Christmas day you could have anywhere from fifty to a hundred relatives stop by to visit.

When I was about thirteen years old, the age my younger daughter is now, we stopped in at Auntie Mary’s for a visit on Christmas day. Not only did she appear delighted to see us, but she also had gifts for my brother and for me. I was thrilled that she had thought of me, and thrilled with the gift. If you grew up when I did, you would remember the “kissing potion” and oversized, flavored lip balms and glosses that were all the rage. This is what Auntie Mary had for me. It was a cola flavored lip balm, and may have been one of my favorite gifts that year.

In retrospect, I realize that Auntie Mary had several “extra” gifts under her tree. A few were for boys, a few for girls. She was the type of person who sought to include everyone. I was not very confident at thirteen. I felt very awkward in most situations, but I felt loved at Auntie Mary’s.

Thank you, Lord, for the example that Auntie Mary was to my family, and many others. May she rest in peace.

1 comment:

Mary B said...

Those are definitely the best kind of aunts!