People will someone ask me "who" my Aunt Suzie is. Well, one answer would've been that she was Mom's best friend. But that's such a simplification of who she is in our family. She's the family you choose. She's the person who never forgets your birthday or anniversary. She's the story keeper of our family, taking photos for the last 47 years that are truly the story of many of our special days. When my mom went into labor with me, they drove around the dorms where she lived honking their horns and yelling out the windows, to let her know they were on their way to the hospital. I'm pretty sure she didn't hear them but that's not the point. She was the first person they HAD to tell. When I came home from the hospital and the family descended to see the first grandbaby, she refused to let anyone but my Aunt Suzie hold me. My Aunt Suzie has never been Suzie - she's Aunt Suzie. She's far more of an Aunt than either of the ones I actually share DNA with.
For my children too she's the magical Aunt who descends with presents and total attention to everything they have to tell her. Since we live far away they don't have the luxury of ice cream and drives through the country with her. They don't get to go to the drive in hot dog stand and order icy cold root beers and listen to Neil Sedaka or Ann Murray on her 8 track player. She was always so giving of her TIME when I was a kid, I can understand why when I was a child my parents chose her as my guardian if anything had happened to them.
Julia asked me how old Aunt Suzie was, and I told her she was a year or two older than Grandma at which point she cried and said "But I don't want Aunt Suzie to die."
Man, I don't either. I wish there was some way around it. I really do.