Aunties – had a lot of them on both sides of the family, all of them very enjoyable. They knew my Mom and Dad had their hands full with the ten of us and they primarily took the roles of cheerleaders for us kids.
My Dad was the only boy in his family; his three sisters became nuns in the Catholic chuch. Those aunties were so much fun! They wrote to us frequently, and always made us laugh.
When my oldest brother and his wife had their first child I was in second grade. My sister Margie and I were very proud, of course. Soon after our nephew’s birth we were on a train ride to visit the aunties. When we got to Portland, which was where their convent was located, we shared the big news about our new nephew. The aunts said “Oh! Since Bob and JoAnne’s baby is a boy, that makes you and Margie uncles, right?” Margie and I were dumbfounded. We knew that wasn’t right, but we didn’t know why. We puzzled about that all day. Finally as we were sitting on the train for the ride home to Seattle, Mom explained how the uncle/aunt determination was made. Margie and I looked at each other and burst out laughing! It was one of those moments that crystalizes in one’s brain: I remember the brown leather train seat I was sitting in, the dripping of an umbrella, and the rocking of the train – all combined with the joy of a puzzle solved.
That was typical of the kind of interaction my Dad’s sisters had with us – fun, challenging, and witty.