I love my aunt. She is funny, normal, nearly deaf, totally no-nonsense and a little kooky. She was probably the person my Mom was closest to on Dad's side of the family, and because they had daughters that were the same age (within two days!) who were best buddies all through childhood, they got to know each other pretty well. Aunt Elaine was there when Mom died, and a few minutes later whispered into my ear "you made her world." I carry that with me to this day, never really believing it's true but selfishly hoping I made her world a little happier.
And she was here, every weekend for I don't remember how long, to help us take care of Dad when things got bad. She sat with him for hours, and helped us watch Sara, and loaned us her car for a month, and always brought kindness and laughter and rest with her -- she somehow came and absorbed up some of the ickiness of life so we didn't have to manage it all by ourselves. She saw how hard it was and didn't judge or henpeck, or tell us what we ought to do; she just jumped in and did and never asked for or expected anything in return.
It's a lot to ask of one person, to fill the void that two have left behind. And though I'll never actually ask that of her I secretly hope for it, for her to remind me who my parents were, and what they would say or do or think about the things that matter in my life.
Lucky me, Aunt Elaine somehow manages to do just that. Not in the easy way that would sound preachy or artificial, but with ease and authenticity. She taught me that baby oil can help get that crusty junk off Sara's face when she has a cold, and treats her like her own grandchild rather than just her neice's daughter. She shows me the things that seasoned moms know but doesn't offer unsolicited advice or patronize me when I seem clueless. I think of her as Sara's Aunt Nonny, and have come so close to asking her if we can call her that but for some reason haven't brought myself to do it. I think it's because I'm afraid she'll think it's silly, or maybe it's because I'm afraid I'll cry. Beats me.
Elaine gets it just right, and she'll never know how much it means to me. Even if I tried to tell her, she would never really know.
Yep, she is definitely one of my favorites.