I have always been, and always will be so thankful for my family and friends. My Grandma - who has selflessly given her life to the caring for of others. She is, and always has been, my hero. I'm going to try to do something I've never done here before, and that is list all of my aunts and uncles and say little blurbs about them. These are my mom's brothers and sisters.
Aunt Judy - the oldest of my Grandma's kids, she has always been a no-nonsense kind of person. She worked hard to become a nurse. As a child, I can admit she was intimidating. When I had Allie, there were complications after she was born and they had her in ICU, but no one would tell me why. They kept saying "wait for the doctor, he will explain." Judy came to check in on me and found me upset, and went to find out what was going on. She came back and reassured me that everything would be fine. She hosts our Sunday dinners often to give Grandma a break. I remember riding in her station wagon one day when I was little - I didn't have school and she was watching me. I can't remember if I was sick and that was the reason I was with her, or if it was just a day off. She had picked me up and was taking me to her house. I vomited in the back of her station wagon - I was very young, so I don't remember if it was car sickness or if I was sick and she was taking care of me that day. She didn't get mad - at least she didn't show me if she was upset. She just took care of me. Judy is married to Chuck, who is an awesome artist and photographer, and they have been together since high school. They have 4 kids - Pete, Amy, David, and Gary.
Aunt Betty - an amazing and giving person. When I was a child, my aunts would pick up all the kids for Sunday school and church. We all rode together in a van. One Sunday, I was lighting a candle after Mass and they all didn't realize I wasn't with them and they left. I walked out of the church towards the Sunday school building and was looking lost, apparently. I remember a man kneeling down to talk to me and ask me where my family was - it was at that minute, I looked up and saw Betty walking through the parking lot towards me. I remember the relief and happiness of seeing her - I was probably 6 years old. They did a head count once in the van and realized they didn't have me, and had turned around to come back. She calls to make sure everyone is OK during a storm, to see if we need anything, and knows what is going on with everyone in the family. When the electric went out one night, she showed up at my door and brought me a lantern-flash light. If you are on vacation, she knows where you are and when you are leaving. She takes thousands of pictures of everyone, and adores babies. I can go to her with anything and I know that she will do anything she can to help.
Aunt Maggie - my God Mother. Always able to make me laugh about anything. The one who has taught me the most about God as well. She is the fun-loving aunt, telling jokes, doing crazy things. I remember going to the airport to see her off when I was little. She traveled a lot for work. I stayed with her a lot when I was younger - other than my parents' houses, hers is the only other house key I have on my key ring. I can also go to her with anything and know that she will give me calm, sensible advice. She is the one I call when I'm crying and need to be reassured that everything is going to be OK. She kept Allie for me a lot as well when Allie was young.
Aunt Mary - the youngest of my Grandma's kids, she is also kind and generous. I always looked up to Mary when I was younger - she was like the cool older sister. I always thought she was glamorous - I would watch her get ready to go out with her friends when I was little. When Allie was starting school, Mary bought her a whole bunch of new school clothes. I don't know if she knew how much I appreciated that - but I have never forgotten it. I also remember picking Allie up from Molly's one day and she was there at the same time, and I had gotten some bad news that day. She recognized that I wasn't OK and gave me a big hug. She lives on a big farm and always has parties for the family. She is a generous and loving person. Mary is married to John who is retired from his "job" and is now a farmer. They just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary by going on a cruise around Hawaii. John is a an amazing person as well - always funny, kind and generous. They have one child together - Jonathan. John has 2 children from his previous marriage - Kim and Brian.
Uncle Chuck - not the same Chuck that is married to Judy, but my mom's brother. He lived with us when I was a child and was just like another dad to me. After he married and moved out, he took me on vacations with him and his family - I am very close to his daughter and we always played together. There are so many songs I love that remind me of Chuck and the years he lived with us. He has always had a lifted truck, and I always thought it was so cool. He is married to Sis, a kind, generous woman, always willing to help out. Chuck has 2 girls - Emily, from his first marriage - my best friend growing up - and Stacie with Sis.
Uncle Mark - he's the one who tells all the stories about walking 10 miles to school barefoot in the snow as a kid, and how rough they had it and how easy it is for kids now. He always has something to contribute to a conversation to make everyone laugh. He will tell you that microwaves are bad. He always says things matter-of-fact that are just hilarious. He is married to Mary - his high school sweetheart - and she is a perfect match for him. I remember going to stay with Mary when I didn't have school once - it was the first time I had ever spent time with her one on one. I don't remember specifics about what we did, but I remember feeling welcome and having fun. That was when they were newly weds. They have 3 boys together - Charlie, Jake, and Mathew.
Uncle Don - he is the baby of the kids, and he is the one we all feared as children. He looks mean as hell, but he's just a big softie. Of course I didn't know that until I was an adult, but he would do anything for anyone in our family. He has a number of heavy equipment vehicles, so if we need a hole dug, or a fence taken apart, or gravel hauled, he will be the one to volunteer. When our loved dog, Teddy passed away, he brought his back-hoe over and dug a grave for him. It was raining, and muddy, and he did it anyway.
There is no way I could ever write everything about every one of them - they all hold so many good memories for me. I am so thankful and grateful for my family, they are such a huge part of who I am.