I have been blessed with parents who provide love, support and encouragement. I also have the good fortune to have many aunts and uncles who took an active role in my life and development. I love and appreciate them all, but today I want to give thanks to my Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony.
Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony are like second parents to me and I don’t think I am wrong in saying the same is true for my sisters. Aunt Theresa is my mother’s younger sister. She and my Uncle Tony live in the town five miles away from my small hometown. Growing up, I spent many nights, weekends and summer afternoons at their house. My parents have gone to their house for Thanksgiving since I was three years old and I attended those dinners most years until I was thirty.
I have memories of playing with wonderful toys at their house as a child. They had games we didn’t have at home – Mousetrap, Pick Up Sticks and a pool table in the basement. Aunt Theresa let me build Cootie Bugs on the living room floor and pretended to act surprised when I hid the finished products in the kitchen cabinets. I learned to play Pitch, the family card game, watching everyone around their dining room table.
These days when my sisters and I gather at my parents’ for a family dinner, Mom often tells us to call Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony to invite them for dessert. Uncle Tony can be counted on to come prepared with a good joke or story. When I was younger I was not allowed to listen to many of them. He usually asks if I’ve been behaving, and always says “Good for you!” when I tell him no, but reassure him I have yet to get caught.
Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony are role models of faith in action. They are charitable, generous and grateful for the blessings in their lives. Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony are active in their church community and I remember many Sunday dinner discussions at their house involving reflections on the sermon from the morning church service. Aunt Theresa always included me in these conversations and often asked what the message meant to me personally. When it was time for me to select a confirmation sponsor, I knew I had to ask Aunt Theresa who gratefully said yes.
In late June 2012, my father and mother were both in the hospital at the same time for separate illnesses. The day they were admitted was the day my brother-in-law passed away. Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony did not hesitate to reach out to all of us and came to the funeral as pillars of strength and support. A hug from Aunt Theresa or Uncle Tony is just about as close as you can get to a hug from Mom and Dad. The first phone call I received last year when I came home from the hospital was a call from Aunt Theresa making sure I was truly alright. Aunt Theresa and my mom are never long phone conversationalists and I knew the fact that call lasted over five minutes meant she had been very concerned. She called every week during my six week recuperation to make sure I was progressing and following the recommendations of my physical therapist.
Growing up, I never realized how blessed I was to have such a close relationship with my extended family. Over time I became aware of how fortunate I am to have Aunt Theresa and Uncle Tony play such a significant role in my life. I am grateful to them for the lessons they have taught me, the praise they give freely, and the love they show. I do my best to honor them by serving my own nieces and nephews in their manner.