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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Happy Birthday Auntie

These days when I ask her how she is doing, she says “I am breathing in and out at regular intervals.”

In my February 7 post I talked about my appreciation for having a sister. My mom had one sister and so do I. My auntie is very special to me all year long, but today is her 85th birthday so I wanted to share with you what she means to me. I consider my aunt to be a renaissance woman. She married her soul mate over 60 years ago and from that union birthed 4 great cousins. My aunt and uncle were health professionals with my aunt being a nurse. We think of this as a common thing in 2015, but my aunt completed her education and started her career during the pre Civil Rights period.

My mom and aunt had a tenuous relationship. They loved each other but were identified as the light and dark skinned daughters (my aunt having the darker skin). Because of this, their grandmother told my aunt that she had better learn a trade. My mom, in her opinion would always have someone to look after her because of her beauty. Not so much for my auntie. Oh boy, did my auntie have the last laugh.

I appreciate my aunt for the example she is. They bought a house on Long Island, again back in the period of time when this was not common. I remember Easter egg hunts and trick or treating with my cousins. It was sort of a city mouse/country mouse contrast in the way we grew up, but lots of love between us. My aunt and uncle finished their attic and made it into a master suite complete with a sitting room and private bath. They put colored fixtures in their bathroom, which was astonishing to me, because I didn’t know sinks, toilets and tubs came in any other color than the white ones we had at home. It has always been an aspiration of mine to own a colored bathroom fixture. I also have fond memories of bumping down her steps. We visited her about 3 years ago and I bumped (sitting on the steps and leaning forward so that gravity takes you down to the next step) down the steps. My sons thought I was being silly, but they enjoyed watching me act silly.

My mom was a tough cookie but some things rattled her…like giving me the “you are a woman now” talk. My mom called my aunt and she made the trip all the way to the Bronx to explain things to me. This was a sacrifice, but it reinforced our love. She and my uncle started running when she was in her 50s which is also when I started trying to run. She even won her age group in a race.

I only have one precious aunt, and I think my auntie is very special. We spoke this evening and even though she is forgetting some things these days, one thing that she is clear on is that she loves me. These days when I ask her how she is doing, she says “I am breathing in and out at regular intervals.” Isn’t she something? Happy birthday my auntie. I love you dearly.


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