Aunt Sheila

Dear Aunt Sheila,
I just wanted to take a few moments to say some things that are on my heart. Life has a way of getting hectic, and in that chaos some times we forget to remind those we love how much they are loved by us. I am guilty of that mistake. I hope you know how very much I love you, but I am not sure that is possible. So, I thought I would take a minute to tell you some of the many reasons you are adored by me. I am not certain I can capture every emotion, memory, and thought that I am hoping to convey; the list is quite long..so bare with me.
You are so many things to me. When I think of you my heart longs for my childhood. Some of my very first memories have you wrapped up in their depths. You were the person standing by my mother’s side the day that I came into the world, and the one that picked out my middle name (which by the way I love way more than my first name). As a little girl, if you were somewhere, you were sure to find me some place nearby. When I had to have my arm casted after falling off a bicycle, it was You that I screamed for to hold my hand before they put me to sleep…..you were my refuge. I was teased mercilessly for being your shadow but I never minded. Where you were there was love, and it drew me to you. You are a ride in the back of an old el camino….a crowded trailer on lane road filled with love, laughter and a few squabbles…but this will always be the place I remember.You are a Saturday morning with a bowl full of cereal, and powdered milk as me and my cousins gathered around the tv for cartoons. You are the patient hand who tirelessly guided me to learn to embrodier, or string a trout line (although I never mastered either). You were a home cooked meal at the table or a platter of fish on the coffee table so I could snuggle with Uncle James and watch westerns with him. You and Uncle James were some of the greatest parts of my childhood, especially the nights you guys let me sneak in and sleep beside you. It feels like yesterday we were picking blackberries off the vine, and I can still smell the honey suckles in the summer breeze.
I will always hold dear the nights we walked to the river, I played in the mud with Beth and Dale while you fished. All our many summers spent camping on the sandy beach……little did I know then that I would always wish for just one more. I think of you on a raft and me paddling you out into the river, just talking and enjoying each other’s presence. I think of the nights we snuck back home for a hot bath, before climbing into the bed reading in silence to whichever book we fancied…..you were the first person who taught me how to dog-ear the page to keep my place in the literary piece that I was reading. On the very lucky nights, you would make me your apple cobbler and some vanilla ice cream on top…..this will forever be my favorite dessert. I have tried to master it but it never tasted as good as it did when I shared it with you, snuggled up in the covers, books in one hand and a bowl of cobbler in the other………I think that it was not only your recipe that made it taste so good, but your company.
You taught me about soap operas, and while all the older kids were at school, we would sit and watch them……again, I enjoyed this, not for the content but just because I got to be with you. It seems like yesterday you were doing laundry and having me put the clothes out on the clothesline, or bring them in before the weather turned bad. More than once I was drenched in rain before I made it back inside with the freshly dried linens, but I didn’t mind. You are the reason that I still love tomato macaroni…a dish not many people even know exists. I used to sit and watch your hands sew, stitch, and embrodiery tirelessly. I would look at those beautiful hands, and think how amazing it was that you could weave to life such intricate designs. I still have my first baby quilt, and my daughters have slept with it. Each stitch of my name, a reminder of the love and time you spent to make it just for me. When we moved to Nashville, it was this blanket that I clung to on the nights I missed you guys so much that I could barely breathe, and my tiny hands would trace each stitch knowing that your hands crafted it before finally drifiting off to sleep. You gave me my first friends……my cousins, thank you for that.
Time has made me grow up, build a family of my own, but that doesn’t dampen the impact you have had on my life. I love you so much, Aunt Sheila, and I just want to know that you was always my favorite aunt, as a child and for always…shhhhh don’t tell anyone wouldn’t want them to get jealous. Thank you for loving me, thank you for loving my Uncle James and lining him out when he needed it, thank you for Melissa, Dale, and Beth. Thank you, for just being you, because it has helped me be the person that I am today. You are loved more than you could ever know.
Love always, your niece,
April Renee

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