There is a picture that exists in family pictures, probably in a frame in my parents room, I might have it in memory from my grandparents room when I was a kid of me as a baby being held by my aunt. My fingers are in my mouth and I have a super cute hat on. My Aunt Martha is smiling big holding me. Evidence that we have always been close.
There is a story from when I was just a little bit older, talking and walking toddler age, from when my Mom was in her grad program and my Aunt was taking care of me. I wanted my mom and instead of putting up a fit as a normal child I started to yell, “Help! I have been taken!” I can imagine my Aunt being both totally freaked out and kind of on the verge of cracking up at this child who went to the extreme level of claiming kidnapping.
I have more memories growing up with every holiday or major life event and in every memory my Aunt Martha is right there along with my parents and grandparents and brothers. Plus there are the memories of holidays, plays, recitals, and just every day things in which my aunt has come from Gresham to make sure to be there. There are memories too of us going to her house to spend the night, to hang out together and play in the yard, and to cuddle in as well. Somewhere along the line, one of us kids decided that we could shorten Aunt Martha to just being our AMar (A-Mar) and when she married our Uncle Bob when I was in middle school he quickly became UBo (U-Bo). My nieces and nephews call them Mar Mar and UBo. My Aunt and Uncle are as essential to the next generation as they have been to us.
If you have been in my life for any amount of time, you have probably met AMar. I have an amazing memory of my Aunt and Uncle coming to the housewarming at the parsonage in Portland and meeting so many of my Portland friends then. I can visualize my Aunt moving around the room doing what she does best, asking questions and listening to the answers from my friends because she really truly wants to know who is in my life and hear how interesting they are. When I talk about my family, the innermost circle, like when we have family zoom every Sunday night, it includes my parents, my brothers and their families and my Aunt Martha and Uncle Bob. It strikes me often how lucky I am that they are included in the innermost circle. Not everyone’s aunts and uncles are that close. My mom’s sister has always been essential in the innermost circle. And when people ask me about my Aunt when I mention her in stories I often follow it up with, “She is basically our second mom, Aunt isn’t quite the right word.” Because my Aunt has always been on the essential shopping trips, from school shopping to wedding dress shopping, and she has come to all important things. She has heard me preach way more than almost anyone (probably except my parents and partner) and has visited me in the most places I have visited (including when I lived in Ireland for a brief stint). She is on call at all times and I know she reads this blog each morning (way more than anyone else). She has listened to all things, all stories, all emotions and has never once written them off or told me I am anything other than important and my emotions are too.
All of this to say that today is a special day. Today is a big huge milestone birthday with a zero at the end and I am so sad I am not there to celebrate with her BUT I can say over and over from afar ….
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMAR! LOVE YOU!!