Sunday, October 14, 2018

Aunt Elizabeth

What is your earliest childhood memory?

I was thinking about that recently. I'm lucky because my earliest memories are beautiful ones. You see, when I was a young child, my mom, dad, Erin, and I lived with my mom's parents -- my Pap and Mamaw -- in the house they still live in now in Morgantown. My mom's sister, my Aunt Elizabeth, lived there too with her two kids at the time, my cousins Rebecca and Matthew. Even more fun, Becca was born in July of 1983, I was born in July 1984, Matthew was born in July 1985, and Erin was born in late June 1986. We were little stair-step kids. I count myself so blessed because I was surrounded by SO many adults who loved me in my early years: my dad, my mom, Mamaw, Pap, and Aunt Elizabeth.

Me, Erin, and Becca at my grandparents' house.

My grandparents and my parents worked outside the home, so my Aunt Elizabeth is the one who stayed home and took care of us. And it's my Aunt Elizabeth who is the lead in what I think might be my earliest -- or at least one of the very earliest -- memories of my childhood. I have this very distinct memory of my Aunt Elizabeth teaching us how to skip like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz through my grandparents' living room and into their kitchen. It is SUCH a clear memory. She also used to make us lunch while singing, "Peanut butter and jelly, for my Becca's belly. Peanut butter and banana, for my little Anna." That's another memory of her that's as clear as day.

I feel so lucky to have been able to stay home as a little child while my parents worked, with an aunt who loved me so much and cousins and sister to play with.

Although my immediate family and I moved to Huntington for my dad's job when I was four, my aunt continued to play a huge role in my life. When we'd visit Morgantown, I'd get to spend the night with Becca at Aunt Elizabeth's house, and it was so much fun. She'd always drive us places, and we'd listen to the Eagles or the Police. My aunt is loud, she's funny, she's smart, and she's so much fun.

More than that, though, she's likely the most hardworking, giving, big-hearted, and kind person I know, too. She might not have much in the way of material things or wealth, but my gosh, she would never hesitate to give anything to you that you needed. I am full of regret for the times I have made life harder for her or hurt her feelings.

I'm 34 now, married, and I don't have children, but I am a teacher. I reflect on what it must have been like for a very young 20-something woman to raise/help raise four very, very little kids, spending day in and day out with us. Someone who must have had her own worries and challenges, as we all do, but who took care of us, fed us, sang to us, made life special for us, and taught us to skip like Dorothy.

Aunt Elizabeth -- I love you so much. You are more than an aunt. You are the greatest bonus mom anyone could ask for.

Accidentally wearing matching shirts! If I remember correctly, we accidentally wore matching shirts the next day, too.

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