The biggest event of my first nine years

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.

Me and my niece.

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.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline James Curtis says:

    A beautiful story Gery, and a very big happy birthday wish to Nicole. Love the photo! I’ll always remember my own amazement and envy in elementary school around a rare set of best friends who were auntie and niece… a marvel I admired that only happens to the luckiest of people. Bless you both and ‘party on!’


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, P. By the time I was 13 there were two more. I got pretty good pretty early at the auntie business 😁.


  2. marilynatlegacytelusnet says:

    Gery! How very beautiful. Phil and I driving with tears in our eyes as I read it to him as we return from a wonderful four days with our beautiful sixty year old daughter, one of life’s treasures to be sure. Love you!!Mim

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Gery Lemon says:

      It was fun and wistful to cast back to that time. Those moments on the deck, waiting, and then …. cemented in memory. 🥰


  3. sewitbeginsnanaimo says:

    What a lovely tribute to Nic! Lucky her to have you Gery.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      We’ve worked at it for a long time, Kath. 😊


  4. Lynda Hundleby says:

    What a charming story, Gery!

    Thanks for sharing.



    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, Lynda.


  5. Beason Sharron says:

    Thank you for another heart warming blog.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank YOU, Sharron, for following.


  6. Marion Toffan says:

    Oh Ger – what a treat. Your Doppelganger. The two of you have the same satisfied deep grin. Confidante indeed and it shows. It is strange how sharing the same information molds you physically. It’s the eyes and the lips … no wonder facial recognition dwells on these two areas. Your post pic has me understanding this a bit more.

    And now to wish you a summer with a few cooling winds and the ever welcoming rain. I see we weathered our first heat dome … and word on the street has it that our coming winter is going to be a double La Ni~na. (South American water movement that makes our arctic winter cold) Chap offering the prognosis follows wave movements around the world. He spoke of Bagladesh … and waters around India. Was the middle of the night so I wasn’t exactly following his talk but came right awake when it went to Double double.

    Later that week I saw my Cornus kousa (Chinese Dogwood) usually blossoms in mid-July but this season sprung into action third June week. Hm-m kinda early. Looked over at my English Beech and saw nultlets forming. Everything is getting a move on – to have produce before winter this year. Early enough so squirrels and birds can get a leg up for what comes next.

    The BBC Radio Overnight Researcher added – the last time we had a double double it was 1950! It was memorable in stifling coldness. I’m advising pals that stocking up on tinned goods, matches, firewood,new boots,socks and blankies should be on the menu. Best to you and your niece, M.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Marion, I sent your doppelgänger comment to Nic. I’ve never ever heard of a shared likeness before your spirited observation. Spirited in all you write. That’s you. Prepping for the arrival of family… first time since prepandemic daughters and grands will be together. If arthritis behaves, it will be a glorious few weeks.


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