WTF Wednesdays 05:
 Celebrating My Aunt Barbara

My Aunt Barbara is spunky, quick-witted, loving and loads of fun. She laughs often and with gusto. She’s principled and unpretentious. She relishes, and often generously makes possible, the adventures of her many loved ones. Her catholic faith is unshakable. She accepts people as they are.

Aunt Barb is thoughtful, organized and consistent. Her unmistakable ruler-edged handwriting has graced hosts of greeting cards and photo-deliveries year after year after year. She’s the curator of the extended family albums. And her butter tarts and fondant eggs are legendary.

Aunt Barb has opened her heart and home to all of us in her large extended family (and beyond). Repeatedly. Without judgement. She’s frank about her dreams and disappointments. She has held us together. She has forgiven. She has inspired.

I am immensely grateful for my Aunt Barb.

In The Beginning

I’ve known Aunt Barb my whole life.

She was a stable, dependable, accepting adult in the turbulence of my formative years.

Aunt Barb stood up for us. Aunt Barb prayed for us. She even took me in when I was owly and unbearable and I’d been ousted by my most dreaded aunt. And it was Aunt Barb who gave me my first and only ever nickname (ScoobyDoo“, from my full name, Andrea Sue, and predating the scaredy-cat dog and TV show of the same name).

Epic Then

Visits with Aunt Barb and her family were highlights of my childhood.

Weekends, holidays, summer vacations or special family occasions, our family would squish into our Volkswagon bug and head to Aunt Barb’s to enjoy warmth, hospitality and tonnes of cousin fun.

Aunt Barb’s stovetop was memorably laden with freshly baked and decorated brownies, cake or cupcakes. Her deep freeze featured self-serve ice cream. And we early rising kids would wake to a table set with colourful plastic bowls, utensils and assorted boxes of decadent kids’ cereals.

While Aunt Barb, Uncle Wilf and my parents laughed uproariously over many games of cards, we seven kids ran free around the neighbourhood, built forts in the crawlspace or invented elaborate games and clubs, crossing our fingers that the parents would delay our departure with one more round of cards.

Epic Now

These days, Aunt Barb and I stay connected through email letters, facebook sharing, too-rare but lengthy phone calls and quick, catchup visits whenever our travels take us close by.




University of Aunt Barb

My Aunt Barbara has shown me the possibilities and eventual outcomes of warmth, love, forgiveness and good humour in the roles of sister, mother, grandmother and aunt.

Her generosity and her genuine concern for and enjoyment of the happiness of others have inspired me. Her strong faith, her calm candidness and phenomenal perspective in dealing with the cruelty of ALS, her loss of mobility and independence, has been a gift and inspiration to us all.

Aunt Barb’s example makes me want to be a better person. Aunt Barb’s compassion helps me soften when I’m not.

Fantasy Fabulosity

If I could magically conjure a next adventure with Aunt Barb, I would pick a weekend of card games, huge laughs, good family and food.

We’d all be there. Healthy, happy and harmonious. We’d put petty and prodigious grievances behind us. We’d recount famous and forgotten tales of our youth. We’d share our recent pasts. We’d laugh. Lots.

And we’d take dozens of photos, which Aunt Barb would carefully label, archive and distribute by mail — addresses, labels and notes all splendidly penned with that unmistakable ruler-edge.

It would be marvelous.

Related Links:



WhatI’m Thankful For.
Why They’re Fab.
What Terrific Folk.
Why The Face?
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  • westportian

    … and now I’m crying. I love all of your writings, Andrea, but this one is extra, extra special <3

    • Thank you, Christine. Just a tiny tribute to a huge force of goodness and good-nature. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. xo

  • westportian

    … and that one (and this one) should have been signed “Cousin Christine”, not Westportian :D

  • Caroline

    So beautiful Andrea. I’m sad about your aunt barb having Als yet what a beautiful legacy of love and memories.