Today is my aunt Karin’s birthday, and I’ve been reflecting a lot on all the things she’s “given” me, and all the ways she has shaped me. This is for you, auntie!
You gave me country music. When I listen to it — every day — I know I got it from you. When I wore cowboy boots at my wedding… you gave me that, too.
You gave me a birthday buddy for life. One day and many years apart, but a special bond because of it.
You gave me dogs. You made me want to rescue and love them, just like you always did.
You gave me piano and my one time, long forgotten skillset. You played, and so I did, too.
You gave me compassion, offering me quarters as a child if I’d say hi to this person or that at any nursing home visit we went on. Quarters too when I could guess a song.
You gave me childhood memories and stories, like the time I was walking the dog, fell in the snow, but still didn’t let go because you always told me not to. I gave you honesty in the dressing rooms.
You gave me candy and popcorn in zip loc bags smuggled into the movies in our pockets.
You gave me mountains of pillows to sit on, because I was terrified of tiny Conway as a kid.
You gave me memories of cinnamon, because your house always smelled like that when I sat atop my pillow throne.
You gave me assurance when I was younger that it was okay that I was different. You stood up for me when I was being made fun of, or felt like I didn’t fit in with the other kids at family parties. You let me be me and I never felt like the weird, shy one when I was with you.
You give me confidence when I am with you now. You’ve taught me to be brave, and strong, and a badass female, because that is what you are and always have been in my eyes. I have learned from you that not only is it okay to be different, but that it’s GREAT to be different.
You aren’t just an aunt – you are a friend for life, a role model, and one of my favorite people to laugh with and spend time with, any old time. I am ME in large part because of YOU.
Here is to many more years of musical theater and laughing together over all the little things.
Happy birthday to my aunt and forever birthday buddy! Thank you… for all of it.