Aunts and Uncles are Like Fence – Guide – Posts in Our Lives
I find myself grieving for my Aunt that I just lost a week ago. It wasn’t clear to me how much sadness I felt over her passing until I awoke from a dream last night – in the dream, I was sitting on my cousin’s bed, crying in her arms about losing my Aunt and what I said in my dream was this: “It’s like we’re losing all of our fence posts. And I feel so helpless; like I can’t do anything to hang on to them. No matter how much praying I do, I can’t save them or bring them back.”
When I awoke, I realized, perhaps for the first time in my life, just how important – and what a significant role my aunts and uncles have played in my life. Our grandparents, on my mother’s side were blessed with eleven children, which made for 22 aunts and uncles in total. Which is a wonderful blessing; until it comes time to say goodbye to them due to illness or aging. Then, it feels like a part of you is being lopped off every time one passes from this physical world. It’s so much blessing – and so much to lose.
I realized that my aunts and uncles have been so much more than simply relatives to love and get to know or laugh with – they have been fence posts, keeping the “protective twine” around our family. They are, so to speak, the wiser, older sheep of the flock that keep safe the young lambs as they grow up.
They have taught us so many things.
I remember most vividly many of my aunts and uncles coming to visit and playing cards late into the evening with my parents and what always stands out in my mind, besides their boisterous – and sometimes cantankerous behaviour – is their laughter and simple enjoyment of spending time together around the dinner table. There was so much laughter!
I remember one incident in particular with my aunt who most recently passed away. Now, she was full of laughter and joy; but she also had a very stern – some would call it frightening to a young, impressionable child – way about her and she expected above else, that we nieces and nephews show respect to our elders.
She was not short on discipline or advice and I remember her saying something to me that I didn’t quite hear or understand – and my response was my casual, ten-year-old, “What?” Well, she grabbed a hold of me by the elbows and said these words to me that were forever seared into my brain: “You don’t say ‘What’! You say pardon!”
I can thank my Aunt for that because I am sure for the rest of my life, I have always said pardon – rarely “what?” whenever I haven’t quite heard something right. It’s funny how afraid we were to repeat the error and yet there was never a harsh hand – only timely given words – from our aunts and uncles.
I cannot begin to write how many lessons my aunts and uncles have taught me over the years; but here are a few “Guide/Fence posts” they surrounded all of us with:
1. Respect your elders.
2. When life gets hard, stand together and find the humour in it.
3. Celebrate life whenever you can and focus on the positive because “There’s no ill wind that doesn’t bring some good.”
4. Appreciate what you have every day and work hard.
5. Be a good steward of money. Rarely borrow and rarely loan.
6. Family is everything. Spend quality time together.
7. If you get married; try to stay married and work things out!
8. Tease, have fun; but be kind and compassionate.
9. Give of yourself and volunteer your time.
10. Learn all you can while you’re here; laugh as much as possible and love each other above all else.
Aunt Lois: you scared the heck out of me sometimes and you made me laugh more times than I can remember. I miss you and I cannot wait until we are all together again! Thank you for being a part of this family and being such an important guidepost in all of our lives!
We will always remember you!
If there’s an aunt or uncle – or many – that you know have been an important guidepost in your life, I encourage you to tell them today!