Recently, I’ve been thinking more on the lives of my aunts and uncles. I am blessed in that I share wonderful relationships with my remaining family. At this time, they are all in their late 70s or early 80s. Unfortunately, dealing with physical challenges, which for most of them did not have for the majority of their lives. And because of Covid, the ability to visit has not been possible. But our phone conversations have carried us along.
When recalling each of them, it takes me to times spent and how great those memories are because of how they were and are.
My sister and I were blessed with large families on both sides of our family. My Mom came from a family of twelve. My Dad came from a family of seven. Both of my parents were raised in close knit families. Family occasions were bountiful and there was always something to look forward to.
From a young age, my Mom always made sure I had a birthday party. There could never be a small party because our family wouldn’t allow that. The size of your house didn’t matter either. You gathered because you were family and that was the only concern. Aunts and Uncles would always show up with their big families. It was a given that everyone would attend. It wasn’t a question because then life wasn’t so complicated with other schedules affecting decisions.
My Dad would take my Mom, sister, and I to California every Thanksgiving. Dad’s side of the family lived in different parts of the State allowing us to see many sites such as the beach, Disneyland, etc. Those family trips opened up my awareness on how both sides of the family were equally important. It was always something I would look forward to. To see my cousins who I would only get to have fun with at this time of year. The playful times running around, sweet treats, game playing, and laughing. The sharing and the spoiling I would receive from my aunts and uncles topped off with a gift.
As I speak to my aunts and uncles more so these days, I can’t help recall who they were in their younger age. Memories pop up. The vibrancy they all had. Being at this stage in their elderly lives, their bodies can no longer keep up with their minds. But even so, knowing their physical challenges, most don’t “sound” like they’re suffering. Their minds are as sharp as can be. Just how I’ve always known them. It always amazes me after each call.
Each of them inspired me with a personality trait that I think I’ve adapted into my own way of thinking. Ways about them that made me take notice and love them for being that person in my upbringing. I have not always noticed that all these years, but playfully at times, my sister points out to me that I have them. Good or bad, I accept.
Majority of them were and still are quick witted. Some were highly educated. Some never worked. Some traveled the world. Some went through difficult marriages, some never married, or had kids. Some endured illness, some reaped financial success, and some lived in humble ways. Some were not always present when I was young, but have completely been present as an adult.
My Mom always stressed to me the importance of family, but regretfully as a young teen and young adult, I did not always feel this way. For a period of time, the celebrations in our family took a different direction that caused a stain in how I viewed the gatherings, specifically at the time my parents divorced. I was too immature to separate the love for them from their actions. This wasn’t the overall case, but some instances drew me to distance myself some. Thankfully, now in my marriage, importance of family developed by God’s design in numerous ways He gave us, has strengthened it in a way fitting now.
Now after losing both of my parents and observing their relationships with their siblings, I have a new profound respect and appreciation for my aunts and uncles.
Both of my parents loved their families greatly. They truly treasured each of them in their hearts and you could feel that in them in their final days.
In closing, I know I am fortunately blessed that I had aunts and uncles who I had strong relationships with. Their impact in how they were there for me in the troubled times throughout my life is something I now pass on and show to my nephews and niece. Dignity and honor, fortitude, unconditional love, are all seeds they showed that I want to carry on.
Thank you Tios for the treasured presence you brought to the family, memories, the legacy of your representation, I will always keep close in my heart and soul.