My sister Leslie has three children – Alyssa, Haylei and Thomas – and in my heart, mind and soul, I love them as though they are my very own.
These precious children are all grown now.
Tom is in the Army and is stationed in Alaska.
Haylei graduated and received her Bachelors degree this past May (2014). At the moment, she works full-time for a pharmacy as a Wellness Ambassador, but she’s hoping to join the police force at some point in the near future. She majored in Criminal Justice and has passed (with flying colors) all the required State and County Civil Service exams. She’s just waiting on a call to come in that will set the career of her dreams in motion.
And Alyssa has a Masters degree. She teaches Spanish at a university in Arkansas and is married … and pregnant. She and her husband are anxiously anticipating the arrival of their first child (a girl) in January (just a few short months away.)
All through the young lives of these children, I had the privilege of playing an active role in their upbringing. I was Leslie’s birthing coach when Alyssa was born. When Leslie brought Alyssa home from the hospital, it was to the apartment that Leslie and I shared. For the first three years of Alyssa’s life, it was just Leslie and I raising her. I was there when Alyssa smiled for the first time … when she said her first word … when she took her first step. I was there rocking her in a chair to sleep at night … telling her bedtime stories …. watching her grow. To me, Alyssa was so much more than a niece. I loved her like a mother loves a child. I still do and always will.
When Alyssa was three, Leslie married. Two years later, Haylei was born, and the following year Tom arrived. What a blessing these children were – to everyone in our family. We all shared in the joy they brought – their Dad, their Mom, their grandparents, their other beloved aunt (Pam), and me (who they’ve always called Auntie M or Nem).
I cannot imagine my life – what it would have been like the past 27 years …. all that it would have lacked …. all the joy that would have been missed out on had these children not been part of my life. To say they’re a blessing is really an understatement. They are so much more to me. I was never able or blessed enough to have children of my own. Alyssa, Haylei and Tom more than aptly filled the void. They are indeed the very heart of me.
Like a mom, there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for my sister’s children. Their health, happiness, safety and peace of mind was always foremost on my mind. I felt fiercely protective of my nieces and nephew. I wanted to shelter them from anything that might ever harm them. They were so extremely precious that I wanted them always to be safe. I couldn’t bear the thought of them suffering harm in any way.
While the kids were growing up, I decided that the best way that I could possibly help prepare and arm them to face the world, was by giving them words of advice. My sister never stopped me from doing it. Leslie has always known me well – she knows my heart better than anyone else on this planet and she knew that I loved her children with all that was in me. She knew that I had their best interest at heart – so she let me freely talk to her children. And talk I did. And they would listen. They loved and trusted and respected me. I could see it in their loving eyes whenever they’d look at me … and that only made me want to shelter and protect them more.
I handed out advice to poor Alyssa, Haylei and Tom all the time. I couldn’t help or stop myself. My desire to keep them from harm and/or help them make good decisions was so fervent. We’d watch a TV show or a movie together and I’d say, “See? See why you shouldn’t talk to strangers?” “See why she should have listened to her parents?” “See why it’s so important to stay in school and do well?” “See why it’s so wrong to lie?” And I’d go on from there – extolling advice. I used every opportunity that presented itself. I confess. I probably over-advised them.
At some point in their young lives, my “advice” became somewhat of a family joke – but in a fun way rather than bad. The kids never showed me anything but patience and respect. They loved and understood my heart and intentions. They got me – in a way that perhaps only true family can. My advice started being referred to as “lectures” – the kids joked that I had one for every subject imaginable (which I did) and so my “advice” became a game that we’d all play. Alyssa, Haylei or Tom would give me a letter – such a ‘S’ and I would proceed to give a short “lecture” on Strangers. If they’d pick ‘K’, I’d go on and on about Kindness. ‘C’ was for cheating, and ‘P’ … well ‘P’ was always about Perverts (I kid you not). We’d all laugh that I could come up with advice on any letter they chose … and I’d make my “lectures” as silly and entertaining and informative as possible. I’d extol my advice and they’d listen. They never argued with me. They never made fun of me or my need to “advise” them. They never looked bored. They always loved and kindly tolerated me. Oh, how I loved those children … and oh how they taught me daily the true meaning of love.
And now Alyssa is about to give birth to a child of her own. A baby girl!She and her husband are planning to name their daughter Lily. We live hundreds of miles apart – which makes me sad – but as often as possible, I plan to see and spend time with Lily. I can’t wait to get to know her. And already our family is joking about the many “lectures” that I’ll probably share with her – just like I did with her mother … because they know that I’m going to love dear Lily as though she were my very own granddaughter. And I will. In fact, I already do – and she hasn’t even arrived yet.
So what advice will I share with dear Lily? I think I’ll do it by the number this time around instead of by each letter– and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
View full post »