Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just like my very own...

I come from a large family. There were four of us growing up,  and we used to visit the rest of the family almost every other weekend. We spent many happy hours with our cousins running all over the 8th Ward in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It was awesome. We walked all over, ran between my grandmother's house and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Pat's. I grew up thinking that cousins were my favorite people in the world.

The four of us, my brother and two sisters, have gone forth and multiplied. One of us just multiplied a couple of weeks ago, as a matter of fact! (Sorry for the math metaphor - homeschooler)

Between us there are 21+ cousins. I love that my kids are growing up with their cousins, but what I love even more is that when I pick up one of these babies, and breathe them in, I know them. I know them, and they know me. They know I love them. If I close my eyes, the little body I am holding in my arms feels like one of my very own, because my heart knows that little child belongs. I love the security that brings me as a parent, and as an aunt. I know that, God forbid, anything should happen to Doug and me, that my children will be loved. I have sisters (including my beautiful sister-in-law, Amy) who will make sure my kids get pieces of me, that they will know what was in my heart. And my sisters and brothers know that if need be, my heart  and arms will stretch wide open to enfold their beautiful little ones. What a blessing. God knew so well what was needed when he built the family.

Family dinners are a regular occurrence. We all decide at the last minute to converge at my mom and dad's. We cook, or grill out, or order pizza. The kids run all over the place. But, as the go dashing by, I grab one. I hug them, smell their kid-dirt-goat-pizza smell, and set them back on their feet, but not before I whisper something at them, a blessing, or just an "I love you", or tell them they are beautiful. That last trick I learned from my Uncle Jim, and my dad. Both great lovers of family, it is a regular sight to see my dad snatch up a child for a squeeze and a toss. Every time I saw my Uncle Jim he made me feel like he was waiting just to see me. A squeeze and a "Where have you been, Beautiful?" always made me smile, even when I was no longer a little girl. Family. There is such perfection in the way a grandparent, uncle or aunt can love a child. I hope all my beautiful nieces and nephews remember always how much I love them, that I pray for them, and that they are part of my heart and soul.

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