Sorry that this one is a few days late. I was having a difficult time choosing just one family member.
Aunt Dorothy was Husband's dad's aunt. She was truly amazing. Even before Husband and I were married, she welcomed me into the family with open arms. She never, ever, missed a birthday. She always sent a card. Husband isn't big on cards or even having his birthday acknowledged, but getting a card from Aunt Dorothy always put a smile on his face. The thing is, I knew I would love her from the first birthday card I ever saw Husband receive from her. I knew because of how Husband spoke of her. Other than his grandpa, he didn't speak like that of anyone else from his life. I honestly can't remember how corresponding with her even started for me. I think it had to do with those birthday cards. In one card she asked Jamie when my birthday was and I think that's when it all started. However, it started, it became a beautiful relationship. She started writing me little notes and I'd write her back. Those notes were so very special to me. She made me feel like I was family, before I actually was family.
When Husband and I got married is when I finally got to meet her (and for those of you keeping track, Husband and I knew each other for 7 years before getting married). There was a huge snowstorm the day before our wedding, which delayed family from Chicago. I was so nervous that Aunt Dorothy wasn't going to be able to make it and I still wouldn't get to meet her. But, she did make it and I was thrilled! It felt like she had known me my entire life and that we always saw each other and chatted. She was just that welcoming and warm.
Throughout the years, Aunt Dorothy and I sent many letters back and forth and had many phone conversations. Once the kids came, phone conversations got shorter, but non less special. She led an amazing life. She had such great stories to share. She was so full of wisdom and love. My life is better because I knew her. When I was feeling down, I knew I could write her a letter or give her a call and it would make me feel better. My day would automatically improve when the mail came and there was a letter from her. No matter what was going on in her life, she would always remember the little things (and big!) that were going on in mine. That takes someone special. During these times, people are very consumed with themselves and she wasn't. She reminded me to not be so consumed with myself and look at other people and see what was going on with them.
The world lost a wonderful woman about a year and a half ago. She led an amazing life and touched so many. I wish my children could have gotten to know her. She loved them unconditionally, without ever having met them. That's what family is supposed to do. It's not about who is around for a minute or who giving the kids what stuff, it's about love and knowing what is going on in their lives. I am so very, very grateful I had the opportunity to know Aunt Dorothy. She will always hold a important place in my heart.