One of the greatest moments of my life took place 60 years ago, which is the first clue the name of this blog is so far in the rear view that it’s entered the realm of wistful past.
I was nine when my brother George took the stairs two at time up the hill from his high school to my elementary school to find me during lunch hour and announce, ‘Mimi had a baby girl.’ Mimi is my big sister; 13 years my senior and old enough then to make me an auntie.
Oh my goodness. I’d gone from classroom to playground at noon a third grade nine-year-old and returned an hour later an aunt. Could there be any greater elevator of status and stature?
I was an aunt. I had a life focus no one among my peers in Mrs. Speers’ classroom possessed. There was a baby in the world to whom I could share the lessons and wisdom of my nine years, could play with and show off around the neighbourhood. I could play house with a real baby!
I was going to be an engaged auntie, much more so than my own Auntie Marion who adored Mimi and George but to whom I was such a late arrival I didn’t have much impact. And much much more so than Auntie Helen, married to Mom’s brother Sam, who was still caught up in her three older kids and barely noticed me.
I would be a different kind of aunt.
The new baby and family lived a ferry ride away in Vancouver and I remember the anticipation, the joyful expectation as my parents and I awaited that first visit. We could see all traffic coming into our village from our home on a river and had binoculars at the ready, waiting for a late 1950s white Volkswagen beetle to come into view and cross the bridge to our house.
Time moves so slowly when you’re nine.
And then . . . there it was, a white beetle with a diaper flying on the antenna.
‘Here they come!’ shouted Dad and in my memory he was jumping up and down.
We crowded them in the driveway. Mom got first hold. It was excruciatingly long.
Dad was next.
Then, ‘Do you want to hold her, Ger?’
I sure did.
She was wee and precious with sweet dandelion fluff Mohawk hair. Her name: Nicole…pronounced Nicoll by family. I don’t know why.
She was the pride of my life. My greatest achievement. I loved her from that second and I love her still.
I was the playmate aunt and later, the confidante aunt.
She’s the niece who arrived just to be near during my own life and health stuff; the person closest in age of any family member with whom I could share the real goods and trust they would be safe. She had that confidence in me too. We’ve hung out together, partied together, grieved together, celebrated together. Laughed until we’ve cried together.
Except for a short blip in time, that wee baby and I have never lived in the same town at the same time. We’ve always been a ferry ride and many kilometres apart. Which means nothing when you’re close.
So this is for you, Nic.
Happy birthday to the girl who made me an aunt and has been the dearest of friends for all of her 60 years.