Tag Archives: extended family

Aunt DoDo

extended family

This week our family lost a very special person. Aunt Shirley, (DoDo) passed away on Wednesday.  Aunt Do, as I liked to call her, was 92 years old. She lived a long, happy life surrounded by the people she loved.

At her funeral on Friday, several of my “cousins” and family members spoke.  I wrote cousins in quotes deliberately because everyone who spoke about Aunt Do, said the same thing….. It didn’t matter how you were related to her, because in her eyes, you were her family. Do Do had no children of her own.  She had five sisters, who all passed away before her. Their children were her nephews and nieces.  Those nephews and nieces married, bringing in even more family members….and then they had their own children… creating more cousins, nephews and nieces…..and all of us – whether related to her by blood or not, were her relatives and no matter how you fit into this “family puzzle,” she treated you as if you were her favorite.

As she was eulogized that afternoon, every person who was there mentioned that the special treatment was just for them all the while knowing that she treated everyone of us in that same special way.

My relationship to Aunt Do is quite “far removed.” My father’s brother is married to DoDo’s niece Dale. No direct bloodline there for me. Dale’s cousin Sandy, was married to Libby. They had children and those children and I consider ourselves cousins.  Again….not related by any direct bloodlines, but connected by love and the strength of our huge extended family.  Add the husbands and kids and we get even further removed but my boys adored her and just knew her as their aunt.

That was just DoDo’s way. She had a knack for making you feel like you were the most special person in the room. When she made cookies, she hide a special can “just for me” – all the while having “secret” cans for just about everyone at the party, telling everyone the same thing. We were all special to her and she let you know it.

She loved family gatherings and she must be beaming up there in heaven right now because that love, that she helped to create has created so much more than just a family, but a family who are also friends and she was one of the dearest friends to all of us.

My Aunt Dale told me that the night before she died, she was laying in her bed and calling out the names “Al” and “Ellie” over and over again.  Al was her husband who died when I was only two years old.  Ellie was my mom. That gave me so much comfort knowing that she was looking for her loved ones to help her move on.  There were definitely no shortage of loved ones there waiting for her and I am sure she was welcomed with open arms.

Love you Aunt Do.  Give my mom a kiss from me.

A Part of the Family

photos click

This afternoon, I had the privilege of being the photographer at the surprise party of my very good friend’s father.  It was his 70th birthday.  My friend, who is also named Claire, teaches music at our school.  She and I have become very good friends and have spent a lot of time together.  I know a lot about her family, as she does mine, but other than her husband and children, I had never met any of them before today.  A month or so ago, her mother was looking for a photographer for this day, and Claire recommended me.  I was touched and honored to do it.

Claire grew up in England and much of her extended family is still living there. She has three sisters and all of them have families of their own.  Today, all of them, along with their uncles, aunts, cousins and close friends got together to celebrate this special day.  I was welcomed warmly from the moment I arrived at her parent’s home in Princeton.  Throughout the day, I was able to meet everyone and put faces to the names of all of those she has told me about.  Everyone there was lovely.  They treated me as if I was a guest at the party, not just the photographer.  I learned that they hadn’t all been together at once in more than twelve years, yet the love and warmth for each other was evident throughout the entire afternoon.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed they were together all of the time because everyone was so close and loving towards one another.   The nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 2-18, played together as if they were old friends.

Claire and some of the guests kept jokingly apologizing for their “crazy family,” which only made me laugh because it was as if I was with my own family.  Other than their English accents giving it away, it really could have been one of our family get togethers.  I stayed for hours getting hundreds of photos for them.  Big family shots, group photos, candids… I can’t wait for them to see them all.  My favorite part of taking photos for others any time is when I can warm up enough to those whose photos I am taking to get them to act naturally for the camera.  There was no problem getting this to happen today.  There is so much laughter and love portrayed in all of the photos.  Even some of the youngest family members who started out camera shy, were posing for photos by the end of the afternoon.

When I got home, I told Dave about their family and how I felt like a part of it while I was there today.  Minutes later, I received a text from Claire telling me that everyone there said that I seemed like a member of their family.  Those are always the best photo shoots.  Blending into the crowd and just kind of fitting in. 


brunch lunch

Today I went to brunch – or was it lunch – with some of my cousins and aunts.  My extended family is really extended!  We just make it easy and call each other cousins, aunts and uncles.  My cousin Lori, (my dad’s, brother’s wife’s, cousin’s, daughter…did you follow that….) was visiting from California and we found some time to meet up.  It had been awhile since we had seen her and it was great to catch up.  Unfortunately, the stomach bug has hit part of our family so my sister Kathi and cousin Lisa had to back out last minute.

While we ate we had a lighthearted conversation on the names of meals.  Dinner vs supper?  Is there a difference?  The “older aunts” called it supper, while we 40-somethings called it dinner.  Of course I had to google it when I got home because Lori and I were stumped at Aunt Libby’s definition.

This is what I found on dictionary.com:

Supper is a light evening meal – served in early evening if dinner is at midday or served late in the evening after an early-evening dinner. Either way, it is regarded as the last meal of the day. Dinner is the main meal of the day, served either in the evening or at midday. However, in certain regions of the US (New England in particular), the words are used interchangeably for the main evening meal. Supper is the older word, dating to c. 1275, and is the less formal term. Dinner dates to 1297 and signifies the chief meal of the day, no matter what time it is served, and is a formally arranged meal, sometimes given to celebrate something or in honor of someone. Both terms derived from similarly spelled French words.

I am as confused with this definition as I was with Aunt Libby’s!!  So of course, curiosity got the best of me.  Was this lunch we were eating today?  Or brunch?

Dictionary.com defined lunch as

1. a light midday meal between breakfast and dinner;
2. any light meal or snack.
(My lunches are RARELY  light!  I enjoy eating and nothing about my portion size is “light,”  this is something I need to work on, I know that!)


and brunch as:

a meal that serves as both breakfast and lunch  

I guess it was brunch, since I ate a delicious tuna burger as my meal but we shared a plate of Poached Pear Vanilla Bean French Toast with caramel sauce on challah bread for dessert!  Not only was it a mix of breakfast and lunch food but FAR from a light meal.  It sure was yummy though!

Regardless, whatever the name of the meals are, I will continue to eat them when I am hungry no matter what time it is!

sweet basile french toast

If Love Could Heal

most beautiful

If love could heal a person, than my mother would be running in a marathon right now!  For those of you who do not know her, this would have been an impossible feat!!  She has COPD, is overweight and jokes about herself and how slow moving she actually is.

Our family, both immediate and extended has always been close.  We are always together.  Sometimes it almost seems we are a bit out of the ordinary considering how much time we all spend together and how much we enjoy these times. Even through this trying time, we have all been together laughing, crying and just enjoying each others’ company.

Social media can be an amazing thing.  We have each posted the news of mom to let others know what is going on.  She is so loved in her community.  We joke that she is the mayor.  She’s known by many as, “The Duck Lady” because of the charity duck race she runs every year.  People are offering meals, child care, love, support, prayers, visits…the list goes on and on. The phone calls, the messages….. it is overwhelming.  I use that word in a positive way.   I don’t know if I will ever be able to let everyone know how incredibly grateful my family and I are for your support.

I want you all to know that I am reading all of your emails and postings to her.  I don’t know if she can hear me but if she can, I know that she would be almost humbled at this outpouring.  She was not one to put herself before others and knowing that all of these people, some who don’t even know her, are out there praying and thinking of her would bring her to tears.

So I am offering an enormous thank you to all of you.  Keep praying and offering those positive thoughts.  She is a remarkable woman and I doubt she ever realized how many, many people she has had an impact on in her lifetime.