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By Auntie Cadra
5:01PM on Jan 22
(I originally wrote this for Savvy Auntie's Day but thought I'd share it [with some revisions] as the question of the day.)
I have six aunts, but I'm closest to my dad's youngest sister, Terry. (Dad's other sister, Anne, has down's syndrome, and while I do adore her too, she's lived her own life, on her own, with help, further away, so I didn't see her as often.) I suppose that it helps that I've been mistaken of being her daughter since the day I was born. Even today, when people meet the two of us together, they remark at how closely alike we look. However, that's not why she's my "best" savvy auntie. I suppose she is because she's the aunt I know the most.
It also didn't help that she's also my single aunt who could spoil my siblings and I silly! She is eight years younger than my dad; she was only a year out of high school when I came along. I guess it was lucky for me that I'm the oldest grandchild on that side of the family, as I got the brunt of the spoiling!
Earliest memories are also with Aunt Terry around. I can still here my dad complaining about how she never bought batteries for Christmas when she'd buy all those toys that needed them. She never came to visit without having at least one thing for each of us.
When I was younger, and before my sisters joined the family, I would get to go spend the weekend with her. We lived an hour away, so going to her house was extra special. Since she still lived with her parents, I got a special "going to Grandma's" suitcase to take with me. I remember packing it carefully so we could go to a family member's evening wedding. I was so tickled that night as it was the first time I felt like a "big girl" because we were out past my bedtime, in the dark (the dark was important, for some reason) and my parents weren't around.
Aunt Terry took my brother and I for a week the summer that our mom was pregnant with our youngest sister. She took us to New Hampshire to visit "Story Land", a theme park. I remember my brother being afraid of a ride, and I freaked out our aunt by going on the roller coaster - twice - with an adult cousin. My favorite picture of that day is of me wearing my pink, shirtsleeve shirt with the ice cream cone on it, holding the little stuffed squirrel that I just had to have and she bought for me.
Aunt Terry once got me a couple fancy traveling cases for my birthday. The following year I packed them in the car, empty, when we went to visit around my birthday. It was quite reasonable in my mind: I was going to get birthday presents and I needed to have SOMETHING to put them all in! My parents thought that was presumptuous of me to think that way, but you know it .... they came home full!
Aunt Terry spared no expense on the stuff she got for us. Today we tease him about it, but as soon as our cousin was born, the big, fancy, multiple presents stopped! Being a single mom took most of her money, but Aunt Terry has always been a generous soul, and still is. With 3 nieces to love, she would make sure that we girls had matching items, with different colors. Since my sisters are only 22 months apart, and usually fit in the same items after they were preschoolers, they'd get the same outfits. My brother naturally got the same item as her son, which tickled our cousin to no end to be just like his big cousin!
She is also a fabulous cook, just like her mom, who died before I was born. Being Italian, life revolved around the dinner table after Sunday Mass, and the recipes passed down from generation to generation, she cooks with skill. Whether it is meatballs, veal cutlets, fresh pitzels, superior spaghetti sauce, Easter Bread, pasta, cakes, lasagna or even a lowly salad, no one can make it as good as Aunt Terry does! (I am a horrible cook, I'm sorry to say!)
Aunt Terry has been there to listen to me wail and complain, though, to this day, she doesn't like to hear about my fights with my dad. (I'm sure she heard them all from his point of view, too!) As their mom died when they were kids, and their dad when they were in their 20's, she idolizes my dad and doesn't take criticism of him well, but she still listens. Dad and I were always too much alike in character and gracious, we butted heads a lot as I got older!
She growls at me because I keep my toes painted. She reminds me often of how my dad would NEVER let her paint her toes because "only prostitutes do that" and how he's rolling in his grave because my toes are pink, or orange, or green, or blue. I remind her that since painting my toes is the only thing I ever went out of my way to do to tick him off, everyone should be GRATEFUL! I still paint my toes every 3 weeks.
Now that I am the aunt, Aunt Terry loves to spoil them as much as I do! I guess I learned my auntie lessons well, and my nieces look just like me. Now that my cousin is grown and out of college, she's got money to spend again, and she delights in shopping for the girls and my baby nephew.
My dad died six years ago, and Aunt Terry wants to be sure that my nieces and nephew get to know their grandfather. My dad made it important that we learn about our family's legacy, and she continues that cause for him. Our family has a tremendous legacy of volunteerism and giving to the community and to our state, and now that she is the only one left of their generation to pass the torch, she does it with her expert skill, dedication, and love. These days she's the primary contact person for my grandmother in a nursing home and her sister, whose health is failing, but she's still there for us and it hasn't diminished her giving spirit. If there's one thing I've learned best from her, it is to cherish and love the family, no matter what. That, and how to be a great, savvy auntie!
This is my first blog here and I do not have friends as of yet on SavvyAunty.com.
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