Aunts....in the western United States the title for this relative is usually pronounced the same as the small creature on the ground ant. In the East and Midwest of America the title is pronounced Ahnt, or Ahntie. Somehow that sounds better to me.....ahntie.
Shakespeare wisely said in his play, Romeo and Juliet, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." So I suppose whether you call these relatives by the title of Ant or Ahnt or Ahntie doesn't matter. What matters is the relationship with these people.
I have many, MANY Aunts. When I married my husband I gained four more. One of my husband's aunts (she's now mine as well....I plan on keeping her as mine for eternity!!!) the very first time she met me pulled me in for a hug. I was feeling huge feelings of insecurity. Nyle and I were getting married in a few weeks. I didn't know his family AT ALL....and we had been engaged and disengaged two or three times in a year.
This same beloved Ahntie, Aunt Jane said words that are engraved on my heart forever, "Welcome to our family CJ. I love you already. I know that you will be a great blessing to Nyle, and to all of our family." WOW! Those sweet words have echoed in my heart and soul for the last 28 years.
This week, I lost two Aunts....Aunt Della, and Auntie Jane. The two didn't have much in common. Each of them was from a different side of my large, lovely family. The one thing they did have in common was that for the last several years of their lives they both struggled with dementia. One of the darkest times in life is watching someone that you love leave before their body is finished. As their personalities faded away the memories that I shared with them became more and more precious.
I can not feel sad for their deaths. For both of them it is a great release. I believe that once again they are in their best healthiest selves. Even if I did NOT believe in life after death (and it is very real to me), even if I ascribed to the theory that there is NOTHING after death, we simply cease to exist, I would be happy for them to have left behind the burdens of pain, and dementia.
Yet within their struggles I see the strengths that are cultivated by the families. Unselfishness that is shown in the caring for these two ladies who have been dear to me. Moments of poignance when they would be themselves even for a brief period of time.
What I would wish is that I could have a time machine. I would sail back in time to New Year's Day at my Aunt Della's. I would watch her happy animated face as she made making a 4 or 5 course meal for 50 look effortless. I would hear her musical laugh ringing out again. I would hug her tight and tell her how much I love her.
Ahntie Jane....I would snuggle up and go to sleep with her in her double bed. I don't think we slept all that much but we had fun giggling and gabbing. The years seemed to fall away and we were both young girls having a slumber (slumberLESS) party. I would eat her amazing biscuits that were so light and fluffy you HAD to put gravy on them or they would simply float off the plate. (OK, that last statement may be a bit exaggerated, but not much!) I would sing, and sing, and sing to Ahntie Jane. She always told me that she LOVED to hear me sing, and I LOVED to sing to her.
Both of these aunts were examples to me of faith, of courage in the hardest of times, and laughter in all times. Both of them blessed me with many, MANY wonderful cousins, and cousins children, and left behind a large legacy of love.
Salute to you both ladies, Aunt Della, and Auntie Jane. I love you both. Even though your turn on this old earth is finished you will always be a part of me. I am excited for that time when once again we are together. Aunt Della, please play the piano for me (she was a terrific piano player) so that I can sing to Aunt Jane, and then we'll have a HUGE round of playing card games. Maybe in the eternities Auntie Jane will cook for me, and I will sing to her....I know that I would appreciate the trade off (I appreciate good cooking but don't really like to do it myself)....NYLE would definitely appreciate it too!