Aunt Nita, Mom, Aunt Marg (standing), Aunt Beth, Aunt Jerita (standing) and Aunt Shirley
(The girls pictured all fall in the middle of an eldest brother, Nelson (deceased) and a youngest brother, Jimmy)
This picture was taken two weekends ago, on a rare night out for my mom. Her sister Anita had come to visit from Newfoundland to spend some time with mom prior to the beginning of her radiation treatments and she convinced mom to join the rest of her sisters at the Newfie Club, a local that two or three of my aunts frequent most Saturday nights.
I must say I think my mom looks fantastic; However despite looking so wonderful I know that she has spent most of the summer feeling nauseous and tired. Despite this she continues to go to the gym as much as she can, which is usually four or five days a week.
A double bonus for my mom was having my sister Tawny visit with her daughter Clara (named for our grandmother). Mom was so excited to see them both and had looked forward to it all summer. She never complained that Tawny was unable to stay at the house with her and although it was the week she started radiation mom jumped in the car every day and went to visit her 'girls'. Although she was tired from her treatment, she wasn't missing out on the joy of her granddaughter.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, in just over four weeks Andy and I are going out to Ontario to meet Clara and spend time with friends and family. Tawny and I have been texting each other to make plans and yesterday, something so small as a text asking me did I mind if she switched her dentist appointment around so that she could leave the baby with us had me smiling all day. I have a nephew here who I am never asked to look after, as my sister-in-law has so much family of her own. Tawny lives away from the rest of the family so none of us get to help out with Clara and when the opportunity presents itself, of course we will :) That's what family is all about. I believe that Tawny also wishes we could have the convenience of being nearer.
My sister-in-law Alison is finally sustaining a pregnancy after a long 18 months. I couldn't be more thrilled for her and her partner, two of the best people in my life. What's even better is that despite the fact that they live a 1.5 hour drive away, I think that I will see plenty of this baby. They have already told me they want me on standby. I laugh and say of course I will always be there to look after their child, however they might not be as readily able give him/her up as they think; not at first anyway. Either way it will be good to have a baby come to stay for weekends, with or without the parents. Besides, Andy owes them for all the times they have spent weekends with his children over the years :)
I just wish, as I often do that we could all live closer together. That our boys could see Clara grow up and although they are so much older I know they would take an interest in her as they love little ones. Time spent with my cousin's twin boys in Nova Scotia are always fun to watch, the way they all interact together. Alex has a lot of patience and time for small children which is rare in a 17 year old lad.
I spent a lot of time in the homes of my Aunties, especially my Aunt Shirley's and Jerita's. Shirley's because I was close to both her children; with Aunt Jerita, it was more that my Nan lived with her and I spent a lot of time with my Nan, as well as the fact that I babysat Jerita's girls Tracy and Nancy, often for the whole of the summer and nearly every Saturday night. I therefore have grown to be friends with these cousins. I'm especially close with Wayne, Shirley's son. Aunt Anita, although she lived farther away in St. John's, was seen on a yearly basis and although we didn't see her children as much, we had a few great holidays together and as we've grown into adults, her daughter Heather and I have become very close. Aunt Beth used to love to have me come spend the night with her, and always over indulged me, especially as she had no children of her own. Aunt Marg, well she has always been a constant in our house, coming to see us regularly and continuing to do so whenever me and my sister get back to Nova Scotia. Both Marg and Shirley get tearful when its time to say goodbye.
I'm so happy that mom has her sisters near whilst she is going through all this; I'm so thankful that I was raised in a big, extended family, not just our own immediate one (which you can read about here), with Aunts, Uncles and cousin's nearby. Sure, my mom's own family of siblings have their fair share of disagreements and strife.. I can remember some huge rows between a few of these sisters, one or two nights in particular, with three of them arguing whilst two were in tears over the row and mom being horrified whilst trying to be peacekeeper, as usual (hmmm I wonder who I get that from?). However despite all this, despite the fact that two of them aren't what you would call friends, they come together whenever any of them are in need. I remember the night Beth lost her husband Art; Wayne and I were out clubbing when we heard the news. We drove into Beth's house straightaway and at two o'clock in the morning found my Aunt Beth surrounded by her sisters. All of them, with the exception of Aunt Anita who lived too far away to be there, but would have if she could.
We might not be able to pick our families, like we can choose our friends. However if given a choice, I wouldn't have chosen any differently. It's taken me awhile but I've learned that no family is perfect and most have some level of dysfunction: a few odd balls, the over-acheivers and under acheivers; and always the prerequisite stubborn one (or two) that march to a completely different beat. Our big, extended family can tick all these boxes, some even twice ;) Its a family that doesn't always like each other, one that certainly doesn't understand each other (some don't even try), yet I've come to the decision that this is ok. We do what we are each personally capable of and let me tell you, this group of women are strong women, capable of almost anything. They have survived so much, both within their individual lives and together as a family. And still they continue to laugh and remember that there have been more good times than bad. I'm so proud to have come from these women and treasure all that I have learned along the way and will hopefully continue to learn.