Both of my grandmothers had babies in their forties begifting me with a young aunt and uncle - both who were young enough to be my sibs. When my grandfather passed, my aunt was only 11. She and my grandmother moved with us to a new town where we all started a new life. We went to the same school for a few years - me trailing behind her and her girlfriend as they giggled and chatted about things that I had no business knowing. When I felt the need for instant attention I would round up a bunch of my classmates and announce that my aunt went to my school. Of course back then, aunts were wizened older ladies - not school girls, so when proof was demanded, I would march the clan over to the circle of big girls and proudly point out "this is my aunt!" (to her horror).
Years passed and although my attempts at sketching and sewing failed, I can't sing a note, and my guitar playing never progressed past 8 chords, I never quite lost the desire to be just like Mugs. The love I have for her is deeper than that of aunt and as fragile as the feelings of wanting to make her proud. She is now the lone survivor of a family of seven children, a mother, wife and grandmother. In her, tiny traces of my mother and grandmother reside; little bits of recognition, subtle gestures and nuances that bring me comfort.
Today is her birthday - and I don't think I have told her often enough how much she means - and has meant - to me in my life. I often refer to her as the big sister I never had - but in hind sight, I suppose I did. Happy birthday Mugs. You have your own permanent little space in my heart carved out and I carry you with me always.