In late 2007, I landed in Randall’s life bearing five tattoos (which soon became six), two divorces, a nearly one-year-old, a harassing ex-boyfriend and enough baggage to require a sidecar. Most people would’ve looked down on me and wondered if I were just looking for a father for my daughter. Some people might’ve given me a chance, but they probably wouldn’t have welcomed me with open, accepting arms.
To be honest, I probably would’ve been a little wary of me as well.
But not Randall’s Aunt Nancy. She is Randall’s mother’s sister, and even though she didn’t know me and could’ve so easily kept me at arm’s length, she chose instead to wrap those arms around me and give me a hug. From the first time I met her, I felt like I was already part of their family. She treated me like I had always been there, and she welcomed Sarah like she was her niece. Regardless of how anyone ever treated me, I was always more concerned with how they would accept Sarah, but Nancy never once acted like Sarah was an outsider. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever told her how much it means that she always takes time to ask Sarah how she’s doing or just make basic conversation. It means a lot to Sarah, but it probably means even more to me.
Sarah called her “Auntsy” back at Christmas, which I thought was adorable and tried to reinforce so we could make it stick. (Of course, Sarah corrected herself, but I’m still hopeful it will catch on with Aubrey.) It fills my heart with contented smiles to know that my kids have an “Auntsy” to call their own, just like I always had with my own aunts.
Today is “Auntsy’s” birthday, and I hope she had a truly, amazingly awesome day. I asked my mother-in-law Leisa what it is about Nancy that makes her so special. Of course, I already knew that she is a great mother and is close to her girls. I knew that she and her husband are still in love after all these years, which they show in little ways such as holding hands and just generally showing respect for each other. I knew she loves her parents and has a great sense of humor, a beautiful home and a respectable, faith-filled job.
That’s all gravy. I wanted the meat.
Ms. Leisa didn’t disappoint. According to her, one of the greatest things about Nancy is that “she’s MY sister and nobody else’s!” What a great thing for a sister to say. She mentioned Nancy’s stubbornness as one of her good traits. After all, stubborn doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can mean you are fiercely loyal. It can indicate a stick-to-it personality. It can mean you are like the strong women in your family who came before you.
She also said Nancy doesn’t compromise on the standards she believes in and loves and cares deeply for her family. She’s a thoughtful person who loves to record family memories and share the love with others. She gave birth to two beautiful girls who she has helped shape into amazing women, and she is one of the most consistently calm, welcoming people I have met.
Auntsy, I hope you had a great day. Thanks for letting me and Sarah in the family and making us feel like we’d always been there. Happy, happy birthday, Aunt Nancy/friend/wife/mother/daughter/sister/mother-in-law/pretty much anything else we need her to be.