In response to an earlier blog where I mentioned phoning my favorite aunt, an offline friend asked me what makes her my favorite aunt.
She’s married to father’s younger brother. Daddy was the eldest of five with a girl in the second slot. I grew up around all my aunts and uncles from both sides of my family. But of all my aunts, yes, she’s my favorite. And unlike your children, you can rank your aunts and uncles.
There were many evenings when my aunt and uncle would come for drinks with my parents. I’d lie in my bed and hear the lilt of a conversation punctuated with laughter every now and then. I didn’t know what they were saying; I couldn’t discern the words. The smoke from their cigarettes would cloud into my room. Lights would flood into my room as the hall light came on for them to retrieve their coats. Those evenings added up. But the event that pushed her into the favorite slot happened when I was pregnant with my first baby.
When I was four months pregnant with our first, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Glioblastoma multiforme grade four, to be precise. No one was sure whether she would live to see her first grandbaby. All she ever wanted was to be a grandmother.
There was nothing I could do. The least I could do was let her spend as much time with my growing belly as possible. But that was hard to do since I lived over 800 miles away. At the time, I was working for my hometown congressman. He let me work out of the district office while I moved back into my old bedroom. My husband stayed at our home and held down his day job.
At three o’clock one night I awoke to find all the lights on and my father rushing around the house. My mother was having a seizure and he needed to take her to the doctor which was an hour’s drive away. Without thinking, I told them I was going too. But when I went to the bathroom, my water broke. Oh no! How could I get to the hospital in my hometown?
I called my aunt and uncle. They came right over and took me to a hospital in one direction while my father took my mother to a hospital in the opposite direction. My husband was busy making airline reservations for the first thing available.
Bless her heart, she meant well. But my aunt wasn’t my Lamaze partner. She didn’t know about the breathing. I gave up trying to use what I learned in class. The baby was coming whether I breathed rhythmically or not.
She stayed by my side all morning long. She held my hand. My uncle would give me updates of my mother from my father's phone calls. Finally at 11:30 a.m. my husband burst into the room with the boom box and tapes that we made for my labor. It was unnecessary. They were already wheeling me to the delivery room. The baby came at noon.
It wasn’t until the third daughter that we named her after my aunt. But they both know she was named after her grand-aunt.
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