I LOVE elephants!! Do you know why? Well, the first reason is that my best friend has collected elephants (not the real ones, of course…) all of her life, and I have grown to love them and have learned an awful lot about them as a result. Elephants are such a loving family unit…and “the Aunts” are heavily involved in helping and assisting with the development, growth, and care of all the new babies that are born into their family unit. You see, I REALLY like that part, because I AM an “Aunt” – many times over! In fact, I am a GREAT Aunt (literally and figuratively….)! All of my nieces and nephews have never thought of me as an adult…most of them view me as a “toy” to play with…and I would have it no other way! There is something in my heart that just jumps and explodes when I see the delight in their eyes when they finally land on me. It is truly intoxicating!
Whether you like Hillary Clinton, or you don’t, is NOT important to me; however, I strongly believe one of her philosophies…that it DOES take a village to raise a child. It takes the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, church leaders/Sunday School teachers, school teachers, neighbors, friends, and community – that IS a village, by the way. At least, that’s the way it was when I was growing up. We felt “safe” because “someone” was always watching out for us, and teaching us life lessons. As an Aunt, I have taken the responsibilities of that “job” very seriously. I have tried to “broaden my nieces’ and nephews’ horizons” – to let them know there was more in the world than they saw in their own, small town…to let them know that, especially in people, “different” did not mean “wrong,” but just different…that there was nobody better than who they were, or who they could be…that they could be and do anything they wanted in life if they worked for it…that faith in God was what you believed, trusted, lived and relied upon…and that life should be worth living – doing what you enjoyed. Most importantly, each one knows that there is never anything they could do in life that would affect the tremendous love I have for them. It is truly unconditional! They know they could tell me anything, do anything, and my love would never waver…that I am ALWAYS only a phone call away. So now that you have all of the background, let’s get to this week’s story…
My baby brother and his wife tried for many years to have a child. My sister-in-law (and I use that word so you know who I am talking about, but in our family, she is indeed my sister, period) had a battle with cancer early in their marriage. She had to have heavy doses of radiation and chemotherapy. As a result, she was told that the treatments had left her sterile. So, the journey began to adopt a little one into the family. This journey went on for many, many years…Resulting in heartbreak, after heartbreak! Each new opportunity for adoption failed. All of our hearts were sad. Then one day, they got a message from a personal friend (they were all officers in the Salvation Army at this time). He reported that a church family’s young daughter had become pregnant, out of wedlock, and they were placing the baby up for adoption. There was only one catch…the family wanted each couple, who wanted that precious baby, to write a letter explaining why they wanted a child, and how they would raise the child. Out of all the families submitting letters, my brother and his wife were chosen!! We were thrilled!!! The time came for the young lady to give birth, and she had a little girl, my Elizabeth! We got her when she was two days old, and from that moment, I was mesmerized. I cannot understand people who say that could not love a child as much, who is not of “their blood.” We know NO difference!! She is ours!!! In fact, both my brother and I will forget and say, well…you got your allergies from us…her nose is an exact replica of my brother’s…but it would NOT make any difference if it weren’t . (And, by the way, it ended up that the Drs. were wrong…a little boy was born a few years after Elizabeth arrived…., and yes, we love him to death also…even though he is not adopted…He will also have a post about him later on…)
She and I have had a special relationship from day one. When she was really little, she could not say my name, so I became “Aunt Tat.” There was no greater pleasure for me than when she would crawl up in my lap, place those little chubby arms around my neck, and say, “I wuv you, Aunt Tat!” On this particular day, I was down visiting with my folks, and we were all sitting out in the sunroom. Of course, Elizabeth was sitting in my lap, and I was loving every minute of it. As we were sitting there, she snuggled in a little closer to me, and very quietly said, “I know where you are taking me this summer.” Surprised, I said, “Well, tell me, where am I taking you?” She looked at me with those beautiful, blue eyes, smiling from ear to ear, and said, “Disneyworld!” I quickly looked over her head to my Mother, who was shaking with laughter, and she mouthed, “When are you leaving?” I chuckled, and said, “As soon as I can clear my schedule…” And yes, we did go to Disneyworld (which will be a later blog article) that summer, and had a wonderful time…just us girls…She has now become a Mom herself, and has given me two more opportunities to be an aunt. Her birthday is this coming week, and I could not be prouder of her, or love her any more than I do today.
Those of you who ARE those special Aunts…remember the impact that you can have on a child’s life…and will continue to have as they grow. Help those mothers who are finding it a little difficult to do it all by themselves. Be an elephant!!! That’s what I will be doing…Won’t you join me? Just for this week….