The rain is pelting down from the gray clouds outside, your cousins are nestled on the couch watching cartoons, allowing me a rare opportunity to write to you. Typically, I write to you late at night when I should be sleeping because during the day my kids are running full-throttle. It is an exhausting job, taking care of your two rambunctious future partners in crime. I will tell you about these two little girls that will surely dote on you from the day you come into this world some other time. Today, I am going to tell you about a remarkable woman that you will undoubtedly love…..Aunt Monkey…aka Aunt Faith.
First let me tell you a little about this hodge podge of folks that will make up your family. We all came into this family in very different ways, Aunt Monkey (a term your aggravating ole’ nanny gave her when my kids were born) wasn’t born into this family. Although, I wish with all my might that she would have been with us her whole life, as she is a vital part of our clan. We all met her through church, she was a quiet, reserved lady. It was on a drive to a convention in her silver ford taurus that I began to become curious about her. She chose her words carefully, and always seemed like she had something to say but refrained. During service or a gathering, she always skirted along the fringe of the group of people, preferring to keep to herself. Never once did she come across as rude by her chosen solace, instead she seemed a bit lost, searching silently for something that I was unsure of.
It was late at night as we were making a trip back from a convention, everyone else was sleeping and I noticed that Faith looked exhausted (she had finished a shift at work and hadn’t rested yet). So I felt it my duty to talk to her and keep her awake. Fidget, you won’t believe what happened next, Aunt Monkey, turned out to be quite the character!!!!!!!!!!! We laughed, we cackled, we talked about random stuff and by the end of that journey I felt a kinship with her that I rarely allotted anyone outside of our family. I could not put my finger on what it was about this young lady that drew me to her. I think it was her quiet demeanor, her strong countenance, her fierce determination and something told me there was more to her than met the eye.
The more I got to know her, the more I sought to know more. Turns out that she was finishing nursing school at her mother’s persistence although she secretly wanted to be an architect. Always seeking to make her family proud, to accept her, and embrace her for who she was, she obliged to become a nurse. Now, Fidget, you should know that although this wasn’t her chosen profession, she takes it seriously. Perhaps, her mother had pushed her into this field of medicine but Faith wasn’t one to shrug her responsibilities, so she sought to be the best nurse she could be. Each patient that she interacted with, she treated them each with true compassion, assuring them during their need, and her patients felt safe with her. I like to think that the nursing field needed her, someone who treated patients like individuals, like humans, like family rather than a chart number…and that, my dear Fidget, is a rare and endearing trait.
The more I spent time with her, the more I was inspired by her. I learned that she wasn’t a lonely, shy person, instead she was someone that chose her own company to those around her who had no interest in truly knowing her. Befriending her was possibly one of the greatest blessings that ever fell in my lap. It wasn’t long until we were all increasingly fond and protective over Faith…I think she needed a family who would love her whole-heartedly for who she was…but what we didn’t recognize at the moment was our little trio, (me, nanny and your mommy) well, we needed her. She was level headed, and even though she tried to hide it, she had a kind and loving heart. The more we came to know her, the more apparent all the reasons that we in fact needed her. Over time, if there was a family get together, rest assured, Faith was there. It wasn’t long until it felt like a gaping hole in our family when she wasn’t present.
I found her easy to talk to. I would frequently talk to her about things that were burdening me, always after our talk I would feel the weight of that burden lifting off of me. It wasn’t so much what she said but the way she listened intently, only answering when you asked it of her. It was the way she allowed me to simply talk, just saying it out loud, somehow gave me the chance to figure things out for myself, to find resolution in whatever was troubling me. I began seeking her counsel whenever I felt torn about something and I treasured the friendship we shared.
My mom, your nanny, and her became best friends, as well. You see, Faith entered our lives at the time we all needed her most. Your nanny had spent her whole existence being a mom, and with me and your mommy moving out I worried excessively about her being alone. It was Faith who stepped in when I had married, and my sister had moved away to college…it gave me such a peace knowing that Mom, was not alone. With Mom being childless for the first time since she was 20, and Faith needing a place to live outside of her suffocating family……it only made sense for them to become roommates. To see them together was quite a conundrum. Mom with her very verbal opinions, her goofiness, and her loving nature…..as you can imagine, Faith blossomed. The once uncertain, uneasy, second guess herself girl, now became confident, and self assured. She smiled more often, she joined in our shenanigans, she gave it back to mom when she needed it, she learned the gift of aggravating….in fact she became pretty darn good at that one. LOL
It was quite amazing the transition she made when she found her true family, a family who loved her without conditions, embraced all of her, and sought to have her see all the many things in her that we admired. She became like a sister/daughter/best friend to mom…..yup, complicated I know. But it turns out Mom needed a sister, and when she needed that sibling, well, you guessed it, Faith filled that void. They would go to the movies or out to dinner, and they argued like sisters too……whew, you should see them work on your nanny’s house together……it is pretty amusing.
Sometimes, Mom mothered her, simply because that was what she had always done, and amazingly Faith took it in stride. Somehow knowing that Mom needed to mother someone in our absence, and truthfully there are times a girl needs a mom…..Faith was no exception, she had never known a true mother. Since, I have the best mom anyone could ask for I was more than willing to share her with my adopted sibling.
When your nanny felt lonesome with her two children grown up, it was your Aunt Monkey who took her mind off of it. She occupied her time, being that friend that was always reliable, loyal, devoutly so. For this and so many other reasons, I owe a debt of gratitude to Faith that I could never in a million years repay. Because of her, I slept better at night, feeling less guilty that I no longer resided with my mom, because I knew she was taken care of and not alone.
It was Faith who stepped up when I was an hour away and your mommy needed some sisterly advice. Never once has Faith EVER mislead any of us, and her insight was always appreciated. As you will come to know, Fidget, this family is complexingly simple. We fight, we argue, we get mad at one another, but through all of that we love each other with a vengeance. This means, that no matter how angry we might be at one another (no worries, it never lasts long) we can gripe and moan but we do not allow anyone to speak ill of the other…….kind of contradictory, I know, Fidget, like I said we are complicated. So, it was with this entail that Faith became the trusted referee, when a spat broke out in our clan. She listened as we vented, or screamed…….after she was sure we had it out of our system, she would remind us all the 1 million reasons why we loved each other….and that is what truly bridged the gap from her being a friend and her being family. She loved us all, individually, and as a group. She never tried to get in the middle of tussles we may be having, but somehow she smoothed out the rough edges and our family was more well rounded because of it.
I can’t name a date that Aunt Monkey went from a friend to a part of the family. It was like she was woven into our fabric before we ever met her, and although I do not have a specific date of when she became, “family,” I know that I truly cannot remember a time that she wasn’t. Like I told you before, Fidget, you come from a long line of STRONG, stubborn women, and Aunt Monkey is no exception. She will be the first to extend a hand when you are down, the first to offer a kind word if she feels you need it, or she is the one you can trust to sit quietly as you voice your troubles…unlike the other three women in your life who you will find, we are problem solvers, and we will often try to fix your problems. When the time comes, and I am sure it will, Fidget, that you are battling within yourself over something it is Faith you should seek out. She will sit and listen and somehow by the time you finish talking, you will have worked it out for yourself. She is protective over her family, and I pity the fool who tries to mess with anyone of us. (insert chuckle) We are all this way, protective, primal when it comes to our tribe, and you will come to know this, Fidget, because you will be fiercely loved by all of us.
Here is what I know about your Aunt Monkey, and here is what makes her the fourth wall to what was once a triangle, she made into a square, balancing us and making us stronger. One of the traits I love about her the most is that she has NO idea how spectacular she is. No joke, Fidget, she is her own biggest critic. She is the one who will shoulder all the weight of a crumbling world, and while carrying all of that she will pick you up and carry you with it. She will be the last to ask for something….matter of fact, I don’t think she has ever asked us for anything…..always the giver, that is who she is. She would gladly go without to ensure any one of us didn’t, and you will not hear her complain nor expect any gratitude. She is a doer, she is a behind the scenes type of girl, doing all the little things she doesn’t think anyone notices just so everyone else’s life can be simpler. Oh, Fidget, but if you look you will see her, no I mean truly see her.
She hates her curly hair, she despises the color of her eyes, she hates just about everything about herself, and that makes me quite sad. She is the first to offer up a compliment but it is very hard for her to accept one. I wish for just one day she could see herself with the eyes that her family (we) see her. Somewhere along the way, her first family failed her, pointing out what they considered short-comings instead of all the billions of ways that make her profoundly wonderful.
Someone forgot to tell her that her ready, warm smile was a welcomed gift in an unfriendly world. Or that those unruly curls she despises atop her head are one of my favorite things about her as I sit and watch her huff at one of those curls that has defiantly escaped the place it was supposed to stay. I would not change one hair on her head. This group of straight blonde haired girls, we needed a curly haired brunette to round us out. Someone forgot to tell her that the eyes that she thinks of as plain are the eyes I have looked into many times in times of despair, and found an overflowing abundance of love in their depths. Those soulful brown eyes are some of the prettiest I have ever seen, but she doesn’t know because someone forgot to tell her. She curses the fact that she is tall but in our group of vertically inclined women she makes our short statures a force to be reckoned with. Of all the things I love about her, I hate that no one took the time to tell her that she is beautiful. That she is perfect, in ways the three of us aren’t. I could tell her all of these things, Fidget, but she would not believe a word of it, and that makes me pretty darn angry, not at her of course, but at the people in her life before us that forgot to tell her all of these things.
I wish I could get my little hands around the ones who forgot to tell her how terrific she is. I wish I could fill their ears with a piece of my mind that someone so deserving walked through life thinking she wasn’t worth a compliment. I wish I could hold them down, kick them where it counts for not reminding this brilliant woman of all the amazing things she brings to the table just by simply being herself. Oops, I didn’t mean to go all karate kid on you, Fidget, I told you we were protective that way. You needn’t worry the only way to get any of us this upset is to cross one of our own, and you are one of us, so you are safe. But since this is supposed to be a kid-friendly version, I will calm down and try to make this less rated R for violent tendencies.
If I had the chance, nah, I don’t think that the ones before her true family are worthy of my anger, just as they weren’t worthy of OUR Faith. If I were given the opportunity, Fidget, I think I would thank them. For it was their ignorance that gave us the chance to open our family up to one of the best parts of us. I would show them Christmas photos where you will find Faith, with her curls, and her pretty smile, a smile that reaches all the way to those soft brown eyes…..because they would see what love can do. I would invite them to our family dinner but force them to sit at the kids table, (no worries, you won’t be sitting there) so they can observe the beautiful person she has become, not because of them but IN SPITE of them. I hope they feel uncomfortable as they watch her play with my girls, or be sure we all have something to drink before she sits down. She is comfortable among us, she isn’t a branch that threatens to snap like she was in her first family, no, Fidget, she is a part of our tree. I hope they cringe as they realize far too late that what a blessing she is. I would glance down at them at the kid table, as I listen to your Aunt Monkey, animatingly tell us about her latest adventure at her job. I wish they could be a fly on the wall to watch her and mom carry on about a game of phase ten where mom obviously cheated and Faith gets lovingly named a “sore loser.” I would invite them to our cabin on a holiday, where I ALWAYS choose to bunk with Faith, they could sleep in the floor while I sleep in the bed across from one of the greatest women I know, and we spend most of the night sleep-happy and laughing about whatever we fancy to be funny. But most importantly, I would simply whisper to all those who should’ve cherished her the way we do, and say, “You missed out, and I am so glad you did. Despite your efforts to damage her, she remains unscathed. Because you were too blind to see the treasure that Faith is, we get to keep her!” (take that!) Fidget, God sure knows what he is doing. Those other idiots who forgot to tell her, well they are worthless, they are irrelevant because now she has a family that would walk through fire for her, loved ones who see all the things others didn’t notice, and for that I am grateful. It is our obliged duty to remind her from here on out, just why we love her so much. You see, Fidget, family isn’t about who you share dna with, it isn’t about blood, it isn’t about genetics at all. Family is unconditional, it is boundless, it is the ones who stick by you when the whole world sets against you. And well I feel sorry for anyone who dares to question if she is family because they will endure our wrath.
The day she became our family is trivial, the way I see it she was always a part of it, it just took us some time to find her. The important fact is that she is and will always be a part of us now, and that is all that matters. She is embedded in all the intricate threads of our hearts and we are blessed she chose us. That brings me to this, Fidget, never forget to include her in all the important parts of your life, you will be a better person for it. I gladly share my status of aunt with her, and I don’t want you to think there is any difference between us other than my straight blonde hair and her curly brown locks, because that is the only difference you will find because our hearts are the same. Let me give you a bit of advice, and I tell ya this since I love you…..ALWAYS, I repeat always hug her last when you arrive at family gatherings….not because she is unworthy of the first hug, but because she gives the best hugs. When you hug her last you get to linger in her embrace and by the time the hug is over, all the pieces in you that felt shaky or out of place will fall back where they belong. I won’t even be upset if you choose her lap at dinner over mine because the way I see it, if I had to pick a favorite aunt… her or me…….I would probably pick her…..shhhh, but don’t tell her how great she is too often, Fidget, as your Nanny always says we don’t want her to get a big head. Welcome to our fabulously, fantastically, perfectly imperfect family, I hope you enjoy the fanatics you were chosen to be a part of. We are a breed all our own, and bless your heart, little one, there is no way out….I laugh because we are your family and there is not a thing you can do about it.