I love watching my children (by birth or marriage) interact with their nieces. Aunties play a special role - not parents, but still related closely enough to have a great impact on a child's life. When I see scenes similar to those above, I think of how I missed out on being a proper auntie to my own nieces and nephews, and how my children missed out, too - because of living overseas for so many years.
I, myself, hit the auntie jackpot. My mother is the eldest of 10 children. She's standing next to her mother in the photo above. These photos, with all the sisters, and one brother (the last child), standing in birth order, were taken many times over the years, well into adulthood. I think they still take photos like this when they are all together, although two of the sisters have passed away.
My sister and I were the eldest grandchildren and doted on by our aunties. My uncle, the baby above, is just 5 years older than I am, so many of the aunties were children when I was young. We loved spending time with them. They played with us, told us stories, took us for walks, confided in us about their boyfriends, babysat us, and were, at times, very likely annoyed with the two of us. Several of my aunties lived with us for short periods.
When we made our infrequent visits home from Ecuador, my aunties (and uncles) were always welcoming and took an interest in my children. Delicious home-cooked dinners, comfortable beds, excursions out, the loan of vehicles - my aunties and their husbands gave much of themselves to us. Each one has chosen a different life path, but all of them are smart, creative, and loving women.
I've been told that several of my aunties read this blog. So Auntie, if you are reading this, I want to let you know how awesome you are. You've all contributed much to my life and I love all of you. I love being your niece.