I’ve mentioned it before that I have an Aunt Agnes that I think the world of….
Here she is at her 99th birthday. Next month we are gathering to celebrate birthday number 100. She is the nicest, most hard working, generous ladies I know.
When my mom passed away young…and her husband passed away young, my Aunt Agnes became much like a Grandma to my kids. She would come with my dad to our kids’ events. We loved it and the kids loved it. She became special to them too because she was active in their lives.
I got to thinking the other day how much I love and admire her…also thinking how special it was that she made an effort to be part of my kids’ lives. That’s when it hit me like a slap in the face. I am a great aunt. What am I doing to stay active in the lives of my great nieces and nephews? I want those special relationships in my life and if I don’t try to work to have them, how will I have them?
I actually have LOTS of great nieces and nephews. On my side of the family… I have 50-ish. On Hubby’s side, I think 18 great and 6 great-great. WOW. That’s a lot considering I am only 52. Hubby and I are the younger siblings so where my sister already has 20 grandchildren…we only have 2. In his family there are several great grandchildren that were born before we even had grandchildren….that’s what happens when there are several years between siblings.
Anyway…back to my wanting to a special great aunt and not just a regular great aunt…I decided that I need to be more present in their lives….so I went to a basketball game.
My niece Jody lives in Cedar Rapids which is an hour from here. I contacted her and asked “how far north does your team travel to play”. She said Independence. So I told her to let me know when the game was. So the Thursday before Christmas Kelli and I went down to see the game. Independence Iowa is about an hour from house…and about an hour for them to travel…not terrible at all.
I’m really close to Jody. She’s my niece but only 4 years younger than me-she’s more like a sister to me. Her daughter Stacey who was playing is #34. We see Stacey quite a bit. Jody comes to a lot of family get togethers and Stacey and sister Dawn(who doesn’t play basketball) come to them with Jody.
I love the relationship we have with her and am so happy to be part of her life. As you all know…with Stacey being a 9th grader, things get tricky at this age, where Aunts aren’t so cool so I’m hoping we can ride through this and stay connected.
When we got to the game my sister was there with her husband…and my other niece, Jody’s sister was there. I’m not as close to Johanna. I used to be but life and priorities have made us drift. This has always been a little sad for me. It turns out her daughter Bri plays on the same team. Bri, I don’t know very well….hardly at all. In fact, we were more or less introduced to each other….Ugh. I hate that I don’t know her. I wouldn’t have recognized her on the street. She would have no clue who I was.
It became apparent more than ever how easy it is for families to drift apart. Opportunities missed.
I got to thinking more about how extended our family has gotten. I have some great nephews and nieces that I’ve never met….I love having a big family but this part of it is hard.
Bri is the girl in red on the far right. Stacey the girl to far left in red.
The basketball game was awesome. The girls are both REALLY good players. I can see that it’s fun for my sister and husband to go the games and get an opportunity to see both of their grand daughters play at the same time. Marion, where they attend school, is known for it’s great girls basketball players. I’m sure these girls will grow with the team and be added to the list.
Going for me was fun…Fun to see the extended family…fun to hang with Kelli. It was also a big reinforcement for me that I need to present in people’s lives or opportunities can easily be missed. Our family is so big now that certainly I can’t be everywhere all the time….but sometimes, I need to go. I need to make an effort.
Jody had more kids…she asked if I’d like to go to show choir. That sounds fun….it’s something our little school never had. So I think I’ll be heading southward another day…not all opportunities are going to be missed and as an added bonus, I can stop in and hang out with our little Lucy.
Families are so hard sometimes…sadly, I can see some of this drifting already happening in my own family. Try as I might, I don’t see a way to stop it.
Opportunities missed….. that is the phrase I was looking for as I tried to talk my brother into going to an Uncle’s funeral two days ago. We had already missed connecting by two weeks before he died – if only I had written two months ago instead of one. My brother and his wife did go the 2 1/2 hour drive each way and meet 18 other relatives!!!! So snow or no snow it was a success. Whew…. 50 little bodies to follow will be exhausting…… good luck.
I think its wonderful that you make an effort to go to some of there events. Most of my nieces and nephews lived in other states so distance made it pretty difficult to do. I used to send them movies (VHS tapes) and some movie snacks, a type of family movie night box from their Aunt. Now they are all in there early 30”s and they talk about those fun boxes that came in the mail.
We also have some great nieces & nephews that we’ve never met and others we rarely see except in pictures on Facebook….guess we have to be thankful for that. We were at a funeral yesterday for someone who was originally from my grandfather’s hometown so of course there were people from there here for the funeral. When we got home I told my husband that some of those people could be my relatives and I don’t even know them. The distance just happens….we simply can’t keep up with everyone, sad as that may seem.
This couldn’t have come at a better time. My husband is from a family of 10 kids, of which 9 live in the same town. His youngest brother lives 3 hours away. The oldest nieces and nephews are married and have children of their own. They are the same age as our kids so we are close to them. We were just talking last night after my father-in-laws 89th birthday party how don’t really know the kids from age 15-3. Your post is just the prodding I need to get my butt out of the house in the evenings and get involved in their lives. Thank you so much for this. I read your blog every day, sometimes two or three times!
Family is so important. Sure wish I lived closer, but it is what it is. I try to see nieces and nephews whenever I’m home. I’m the oldest of 49 grandchildren on my Dad’s side and I can say I know those cousins names. As for their kids, I only know a handful. Not good. I just try to do what I can and I hope that counts. Love them all.
Edit: I do have my 1st great nephew born in August. I hope to meet him someday. He’s a keeper!
Umm…I took a vote this morning. Nothing special about the kids’ “Auntie Jo Gracie”, I think the unanimous word used was AWESOME! You are and AWESOME great-aunt to my kids. They know you and love you! Stacey was thrilled that you and Kelli drove to see her! (I think she upped her game a little too!) ;) Thank you for being the big sister I never had but have! Thank you for being “larger than life” to me growing up and for sharing those struggles that have brought you down to earth and deeper as a friend and an unbelievably important part of my life today as adults. I love going through life with the same goal “grow old along with me”! I hope we enjoy celebrating our 100th birthdays together as survivors! Of course you will be 104 at mine!