What makes someone a great aunt? The same characteristics that makes a great parent makes a great aunt.
Love and kindness. Making time to spend together. Being there to celebrate the good times. Joy and sharing. Remembering special days. Helping during the hard times.
In large families, there's often one sibling who serves as a surrogate mom to the younger kids in the family.
That's the role my sister Kathy has always held in our family. Kathy was often found with at least one sibling in her lap or on her hip when she was younger.
Kathy was born the second child in a family which eventually grew to include eight children.
She would have made a great mom, but Kathy was called to serve God through her vocation as a Sister of Charity: serving the poor, teaching children and devoting her life to God.
Despite serving far from home at times over the years, Kathy always found time to keep in touch with the rest of the family.
As nieces and nephews were born into the family, Kathy always took time to welcome them to the world.
The nieces and nephews who lived nearby all met Favorite Aunt Kathy while still in the hospital.
As she held them for the first time, she introduced herself, "I am your Favorite Aunt Kathy."
Her words came to life through her actions. Each niece and nephew knew that they held a special place in Favorite Aunt Kathy's heart.
You can always find Favorite Aunt Kathy at birthday parties and baseball games, dance recitals and concerts, school programs and church celebrations.
Nieces and nephews who lived far away knew Favorite Aunt Kathy would send cards for every celebration and keep to up with their activities and lives from a distance.
Family vacations were the times my kids spent the most time with Favorite Aunt Kathy. Sometimes she visited us and sometimes we visited her.
The best family vacation ever was spent driving across the country with Favorite Aunt Kathy.
We stopped to see the sights along the way, visiting several of our siblings in various places.
From Kansas to California and back again, Favorite Aunt Kathy shared funny travel stories from our childhood, helped with whatever needed to be done and woke the kids with, "Rise and Shine" each morning.
Everywhere we have been with Favorite Aunt Kathy, there are special memories.
As the next generation of babies arrived in our family, Favorite Great-Aunt Kathy took her rightful place in their lives.
Favorite Aunt Kathy loves kids, especially the kids in her family.
She's there to help with homework, offer a shoulder to cry on, cheer you up when you're down and celebrate with you when life's going well.
Kathy's also the person who has taken on the role of helping our parents as they age.
Taking our parents to doctor's appointments and helping them with tasks at home are among the ways Kathy helps.
In big ways and small, through acts of kindness and love, Kathy is always there for all of her family.
In the same way, Kathy's always there to help the children she teaches.
From your siblings, parents and especially nieces and nephews, Happy Birthday, Favorite Aunt Kathy!
Thanks for being a great sister and role model for all of us. Thanks for looking out for our parents as they looked out for all of us.
May your birthday be filled with joy and blessings! And may God shower you with love as you have loved all of us.