I was standing there doing the dishes this morning, reminiscing about my childhood, and next thing I know I have tears rolling down my face. Not tears of sadness. Happy tears. Lucky tears. You see, I didn't have a lot of family that I was really close with. Most of them I only saw on holidays, or special occasions. My grandmother, who was amazing passed away when I was very young, and so did my great grandmother. I was however lucky enough to have one aunt and uncle who meant (still do) the world to me.
When you're a kid, it's important to have people other than your parents who you can depend on. You don't always like your parents, so having an extra set around is nice when you need to vent, or just get away. My extra set was my Uncle Mike, and Aunt Chris. I spent many weekends with them, and my cousins. Got caught stealing, and smoking with my oldest cousin at their house. We got in some deep shit over that one. We spent every holiday over there, after all the grandparents had passed. I tell you what, NOBODY can cook like my Auntie Chris. NOBODY. The food and the laughter is what I remember the most. We were always laughing. Non-stop laughing. Laughing and making fun of each other. Isn't that what family is for? If you can't make fun of your family, who can you make fun of?
They made my life easier. They made me feel loved, and they made me feel special. I'll never forget the worst summer of my childhood. I was 14. It was the year my parents decided to move me out of the state, and away from all my friends. I lived in a small town, and had gone to school with my friends since kindergarten, and they were moving me 30 minutes away. When you're a kid 30 minutes is far, especially when you don't have a drivers licence. I was pretty upset. My aunt and uncle offered me a place to live. They told me if I didn't want to move, I could always come stay with them. When my uncle signed my 8th grade graduation autograph book it said "You will always have an open bed waiting for you here, if you need it". I used to pull that out when I was a PMSing teen, and cry cry cry, because I knew I was lucky to have people like them in my life. That's a great feeling when you're a kid. I just knew there would always be someone there that I could count on, no matter what.
As I got older, and got my licence, I still spent many weekends at their house. One summer we went to Great America almost every weekend. Then I'd go out and get into trouble with my cousins. My aunt and uncle called me at least once a week to check on me, and just to chat. My Uncle Mike is the one who made me realize I had finally met the man I was going to marry. We were all having dinner together and I got up, and made my future husband a plate of food. My uncle's jaw about hit the floor. His exact words were "If Jesus Christ himself walked into this house and asked you to make him a plate, you'd tell him his f*cking arms aren't broken, and to get it himself! I think you've found the one you're going to marry.". He was right.
After our wedding, me and the hubs struggled a lot, like new couples often do. We were broke, trying to figure out how to live with each others bad habits, and getting used to the married life. My aunt and uncle made that first year easier on us. They would come by every week or two and fill our freezer with meat. Pounds of ground, big fat ass pork chops, and even some steaks. We never had to worry about what we were going to eat. They made sure of that. We were broke as shit, but we had meat dammit. Lots and lots of meat.
I could go on and on about all the great things they've done for me. I could tell you about the food my aunt made for my wedding shower, and all the dishes they bought me, and how they made sure to upgrade and buy a better crib mattress for my kid, because she didn't want him sleeping on a crappy mattress. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. They are amazing, and I am lucky to have them. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay them for all the kind things that they did for me. They didn't have do any of it. They weren't my parents. They were my aunt an uncle. There is no rule that says you have to love your nieces and nephews, and that you have to be there whenever they need you. They just did it, and I'll forever be grateful for them.
I didn't write this blog so I could brag about my aunt and uncle. I wrote it because I believe every kid should have at least one aunt and uncle like this. Someone who is always there to talk, and always there to make your life a little easier, and a lot more fun. Even if distance prevents it, at least be an ear for your nieces and nephews. Call them, send them a card, and let them know they can count on you and that they are loved. I still have that autograph book, and I still pull it out and tear up when I see my uncle's handwriting, telling me that I will always have a place to stay. Having a relative that's always there, is almost as important as having a great set of parents. Lets face it, life can be full of suckage sometimes. A freezer full of love can make all the difference to someone. Make some memories.