Saturday, September 6, 2014

A New Season Of Life

This is the first year in a very, very long time that we have not had any of our nieces or nephews here to visit. I've spent the past 20 plus years trying to make special memories and spend quality time with my nephew and four nieces here in Texas.

But things are changing . . . Pun'kin and the twins are getting older and their busy schedules don't leave time for visits since they live over five hours away from us. My nephew and oldest niece are grown now, which makes things more complicated . . . and more exciting because there are great-nieces and great-nephews. Of course, we're all much more spread out, too. My nephew and his family are in Alabama, and Robbie's two nephews are in Ohio.

In all honesty, I've mourned the loss of all those spring break and summer vacation visits. I realize that I'm entering a new season in my role as Aunt Melissa. It's been a little bit of a lonely transition for me because it's not one of those well-recognized changes that parents experience and the rest of the world acknowledges and understands. Everyone sympathizes with the young mom who sends her last child off to school and wonders what to do with her daytime hours and nods compassionately as another couple explains how they just moved their youngest off to college and returned home to an empty nest. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there are many who can relate to the sense of loss I've felt this year as I dust the picture story books that haven't been needed for bedtime reading and contemplate finally donating the items in the toy bins.

However, over the past month or so I have begun to embrace this new season and am taking time to recognize and enjoy the new ways we are interacting with our nieces and nephews. Most of our conversations now involve some form of technology. My nephew called one day a few weeks ago to see if I wanted to Skype with his little ones. Uhmm.....YES!! I loved being able to see him playing with our great-niece, who we've not had the opportunity to meet in person yet.

And it totally made me laugh when Andrew showed me his missing teeth and then Garrett explained how he was going to lose his teeth, too, so he could be like his big brother.

I was thrilled to have the text conversation below with our 13-year-old nephew in Ohio. Last summer on our vacation, Thomas helped me make my Grandma's pecan pie for our Christmas in July celebration. Since then, he has made the pie a couple of times. I just know it would make Grandma happy to know that the next generation is baking the best pecan pie in the world!

One evening when we returned home from a night out, there was a message on the answering machine from Pun'kin Natashia asking me to give her a call. I sent her a text to be sure she was still up before I called. I loved her reply because it was prompt and polite, just like a true Southern girl!

Another day I noticed that she had posted this status update on her Facebook page . . . and I, of course, called her for a happy/friendly phone conversation.

It might have been a few days late, but I was still thrilled to get this Facebook message from my oldest niece.

I'm so glad technology allows us to interact in such a variety of ways. However, I'm also glad that I occasionally find something special in my mailbox. These two handmade cards came all the way from Ohio to wish me a happy birthday back in July.

And we received handwritten letters from Paige & Laurie in the mail just a few days ago. I'm so impressed with how well the twins are writing and loved reading about what they've been up to lately. (They even sent us each a special magnet!)

Now that I think about it, this new season as Aunt Melissa might not be so bad after all!


  1. It looks like you have a very loving relationship with them all, enjoy this new phase x

  2. Tt's good to read that the sense of loss is shifting as you explore your new role and status - and you are so right about no-one thinking about the role of the patiently loving aunts and uncles who are also affected by family changes. So glad to see all those lovely interactions - I had no idea that 'ma'am' was still in use :).

  3. Getting handmade in the mail is the best. I'm afraid it's an art soon to be lost forever! It is so great that you have such a close relationship with your nieces and nephews despite the distance!

  4. things are always changing! Enjoy them as they grow up. I know Ally has been encouraged (and entertained!) by my sister, her aunt, in recent weeks. they will always need you!

  5. Technology is definitely a life-saver when you're far away from your loved ones!

  6. fabulous how current technology makes connection so much easier across the miles - I know what you mean about the changing aunty role

  7. What a good, brave, worthwhile post this is. You make such a great point and you have made me think. Life around grown up children is different, but there are some very good's a pleasure to have that adult relationship and I just know that all the love and support you have shown over the years will never be forgotten. It'll come back to you, I bet it will!

  8. Oh, I can totally relate! My surgery in May prevented me from traveling to Chicago for Michael's 8th grade graduation. I've gone from seeing my nephews a couple time a year to once a year if I am lucky. They grow up so fast. Kyle will text with me and send me goofy photos so I'm not completely left out. They will be back for spring break in March so skype talks until then...... I feel for you!


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!