Everyone needs an aunt like Elena's Aunt Suzy.
Suzy, or Suzan rather, is my eldest sister. She was 15 when I was born, and while I've never specifically asked her what she felt when the news came she was going to be a big sister yet again (there are 4 of us), I imagine it leaned more toward mortified than joyful. Not so much at the thought of me, but more with the thought of what my parents did to allow my arrival into what probably seemed a complete family.
She is my sister and my godmother – very creative, Mom and Dad. (Did I mention my brother is my godfather? They used to scare the bejeesus out of me with tales of what would happen to me should our parents meet an untimely death before I turned 18. If my parents kicked the bucket before they turned 18, I was to be shipped off to an uncle's house in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois and forced to endure the smell of rotting corn husks that float downwind of the Sweet Corn Capitol of the World. If they met their maker after my brother and sister were of age, I'd be forced to live with them as their slave and minion. Kind of explains my issues with insomnia from the ages of 8 to 18.)
She was also, in many ways, like an aunt to me. My mother's sisters were far away, either in Georgia or Spain. My father's sisters, while closer geographically, came from a large family. My dad has 12 siblings, and many of his siblings had large families of their own. Doting on a single niece, especially one that came along after so many others, just wasn't possible.
During a time in her life when my sister could have been consumed with her own youth, she made it a priority to be present in mine. In my earlier years, it was probably forced to some degree, but in my mind it was because she purely enjoyed spending time with me. I tagged along on shopping trips, went to concerts, and spent the night in her apartment, which to me seemed like the epitome of independence and chicness. When she moved to Texas and married, I was heartbroken. It would have been easy then, for her to cut the ties a bit. She had her own life, her own family, and still I was invited to come every year for Spring Break. She took me shopping for prom dresses, we joined the ladies who lunched in swanky parts of Dallas.
Even now that I am grown with a family of my own, she still finds ways to dote on me and my children. My favorites are the unexpected packages that appear every so often. You never know what will be in a box from Aunt Suzy, but more than likely it will have a good read you've never heard of and something you're not quite sure what to do with. It's always guaranteed to be fun.
Elena's birthday package from Aunt Suzy arrived a few months ago and contained a gift card to a book store (see, good reads!) and a package of pretty stationary. Suzan mentioned how she used to exchange letters with her grandmothers and aunts when she was about Elena's age, and how she would enjoy exchanging letters with Elena. Elena was thrilled, and scurried off to pen a thank-you note right away. Every time she gets a new letter from Aunt Suzy, she runs straight to her room to pen a reply.
There's something so wonderful about a real, handwritten letter. Have you ever gone back and lovingly held a text message, run your fingers over an LOL? Just the other day I checked over an e-mail Elena was about to send to a friend, and was horrified to see it filled with emoticons and full of oh hai! iz u mah friend? Kthxbye! This from a girl who can spell plateau without spell check!
And it's not just the introduction to the fine art of letter-writing. We have Aunt Suzy to thank for sparking the interest in knitting. And when the time comes (probably around the first time eye-roll in my direction), I'll gladly take Aunt Suzy up on that offer to have Elena come spend a little one-on-one time with her down in Texas.
So thank you, Aunt Suzy, for stepping up and being that aunt. For me, when you were already a pretty fabulous sister, and for Elena, who adores you to pieces.