Twenty-four years ago today, I became an aunt for the first time. As a senior in high school, I really didn't understand how that new title would change my life. In addition to my nephew, I now have four nieces and a great-nephew, ranging in age from 24 to 2. I absolutely love being an aunt and have taken as many opportunities as possible over the past 24 years to spoil my nieces and nephews. I've tried to spend quality time with each one, often driving six and a half hours round trip in one day to pick them up for a visit (and that's meeting my sister at the halfway point!). When the two oldest were young, they stayed at my home practically every other weekend for over a year. I've taken them on trips, usually each one by his or herself, meaning that I often made the same trip three or more times. As they continue to grow up and all of our lives become busier and busier, I don't get to see them as often as I would like, which saddens me.
Lately I've been contemplating whether the investment I've made in these beautiful kid’s lives has been worth it. Will they remember the little things I did like buying them new swimsuits several summers in a row or new tennis shoes to start first grade, teaching them to sing the B-I-B-L-E, and driving six hours to attend birthday parties, graduations, football games, and theatre productions? Will they even care that I read to them while they were babies? Will they some day understand how often I wish I had not made poor decisions in my life because I felt that I was not being a good role model? Will they ever know how many prayers I've said on their behalf?
Thinking about all this today I know without a doubt that YES it has all been worth it! I have so many wonderful memories – and many more to be made in the years to come. I am so blessed to be an aunt!
The 7th journaling prompt in Shimelle's True Stories class yesterday was about memory flashes, recording bits and pieces of memories as they come rather than trying to string everything together in grammatically correct sentences. I recorded some of my memory flashes and the emotions they evoked at the time and created this layout On Being An Aunt. I was inspired to use the red and pink patterned papers by an email that Nic sent as extra inspiration for the Red week in the BPC Color! workshop.
I included my journaling on the three cards that are inside the title pocket. One card has my thoughts that I shared in the first two paragraphs of this blog post. The other two cards hold my memory/emotion flashes:
*Determination while teaching Trey to ride his bicycle
*Contentment seeing Nichole watching the rain through the glass door
*Conviction when Pun’kin said, “Aunt Melissa, if you read out loud, I can hear, too.”
*Crying Christmas Day 2001 knowing I was moving away
*Surprised when Trey gave me the bird houses he’d previously wanted to keep for himself
*Fun cheering for Trey at baseball games
*Impressed watching Nichole march with the drums
*Elation when Paige & Laurie finally began to recognize me
*Wonder watching Nichole’s excitement at being in New York
*Chuckling at Trey on the Texas Cyclone with his teeth chattering
*Joy watching Pun’kin ice skating and saying “It’s hard!” with a big smile on her face
*Amused at Nichole picking the biggest room at the bed and breakfast in Natchez
*Enjoyment playing I am going on a trip… with Nichole while driving through the middle of nowhere
*Stranded in the recliner holding the 8-month-old twins without an extra hand to push the lever down so I could get up without waking them
*Entertained when Pun’kin named her imaginary restaurant The Jalapeño Chicken and asked if we wanted the juice with our beans
*Disappointed when Trey grew up and decided he didn’t want me to call him my Buddy anymore
*Tickled at Andrew saying NoNoNoNo as he walked past the toy room, repeating what we always said to him
*Smiling at Laurie convincing Uncle Robbie to take them to Toys R Us
*Fascinated at Paige offering her sleeve for Laurie’s tears
*Satisfaction seeing Nichole graduate from high school
*Delight when Trey called and invited us to visit him at a church service when he was in basic training
*Confused at the twins not wanting to walk barefoot in the sand at the dinosaur dig
*Privileged to read the twin’s their first book while they were still in the NICU
*Awe at the growth in Pun’kin’s acting and dancing skills
*Concern as Andrew backed away from the Robot
*Laughing at the twins eating the sprinkles instead of putting them on the cupcakes
*Remembering the hugs, kisses, tears, laughter, smiles