I’m The Favorite, And I Can Prove It
Disclaimer: To all my cousins who have been disillusioned: I apologize. I know many of you thought for years you were the favorite niece, but it is time for the truth to come out. I am the favorite niece, and I can prove it.
Recently my Aunt Maddy passed away due to COVID-19. I was unable to attend her funeral due to the current guidelines. However, it didn’t stop me from thinking about her. It’s funny how memories work. How her brothers related to her is very different from my relationship with her. It is too bad her brothers didn’t get to be her favorite niece. It really put them at a disadvantage. But that is their problem, not mine.
When I was a wee child, my Aunt used to pamper me whenever we visited her and my cousins. I relished every moment. She had a small breed dog named Chloe (or something like that) who was always yipped at us when we arrived, then went off to sulk in a corner. My Aunt (please, aunt, not ant) was a peppery lady with a strong Boston accent. I remember the first thing I always saw going into her home was her huge TV. The old-fashioned kind, set in a cabinet. It was a piece of furniture, not an appliance.
After the grown-ups visited for a while, and us cousins got into whatever trouble we could find, Aunt Maddy would serve supper. It was never anything fancy, but always delicious. She never overlooked me. She always made me feel special because she would stack a dictionary, encyclopedias, and a Sears and Roebuck’s catalog in my chair so I could sit at a comfortable level at the table. (No, my dear cousins, just because she did that for you too doesn’t mean anything). She never sang “Short People Ain’t Got No Reason To Live” at me (the guilty party knows who they are) but simply made accommodation for my stature. After all, just because I look like the only member of the family without a pituitary gland problem doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a little respect, right? (Guilty parties, you know who you are). That simple little act made me realize early: I’m her favorite niece!
As I grew up, our paths didn’t cross as much. It is a sad truth that teenagers become a little selfish. Some more than others. My bubble included school, friends, and volleyball. Eventually, I got married. Our wedding was very small. She was not in attendance, but I know she was thinking about me. A couple of months after the day of our vows, I received a package in the mail. It was a gorgeous afghan. Queen size, intricate cables and bobbles, and every stitch was knitted by my Aunt Maddy.
As a knitter and quilter, I understand the amount of time, effort, and expense that went into the project. How she ever completed so gigantic a project I’ll never understand. I can knit, but small projects are a challenge for me to complete. Her loving and nimble fingers created every centimeter. It is truly a work of art I cherish to this day. (No, my dear cousin, just because she crafted items for you doesn’t mean anything. I mean, she had to in order to not let you feel left out. It was an act of kindness so your feelings wouldn’t be hurt.). The afghan spent many years on my bed, and since it began to show a little wear and tear, I’ve stored it in a special trunk. Every time I finger over those stitches, I remember: I’m her favorite niece!
More years ticked by. Babies arrived and my life filled quickly with the tasks of a mother with many young children. For a few years, we attended family reunions. I saw my Aunt Maddy, and even though we hadn’t spoken for many, many months, it always felt like we picked up where we left off. We talked about my kids. She was awed that I homeschooled them. We talked about her life growing up. I was awed at the number of cousins she grew up with. In this day and age families are spread out much more.
Twenty-eight years later I visited her in a nursing home. She had lost a lot of weight. She was suffering from the beginning of dementia. My heart ached to see her unhappy where she was living, but she could no longer live safely at home. Thankfully, her children were able to visit her often. I remember wondering if she would even remember me. How bad was the dementia? Apparently, not bad. She recognized me and asked about the kids. Then she said, “I enjoyed your book.”
She read my book? I never realized that.
“When is your next book coming out?”
I stuttered some lousy answer about having to find an agent because the publishing company I used scammed me. I don’t know how much she understood. But I got the message: She read my book and liked it. The fact remains: I’m her favorite niece.
Through these proofs of being Aunt Maddy’s favorite, she taught me valuable lessons. Go the extra mile for others, finish what you start, and don’t give up in the face of obstacles. Great lessons for everyone. But she gave them especially to me.
Because I’m her favorite niece.