If you have ever been around my family, my immediate family that I grew up in as well as my family now, you know we are huggers. In fact I can pretty much bet that if you are a friend of mine and have ever even met my dad he has given you a hug! We like to bring people into our homes, welcome them with open arms, make them something to eat, make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. It is just the way things are. I have loved growing up in a family like this. We hug each time we see each other, never miss a chance to say I love you, never. There is one exception to this, Aunt Jean. She has been at every party and has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. She was the person who watched me when mom and dad (seldomly) went out, the person who remembered every birthday, anniversary and so on, she is the closest thing I can ever remember having to a grandparent. She is even the namesake for my Emma Jean. I have to admit that tonight something happened that has never happened before. Maybe it is age, maybe it is the realization of how much things are changing, but it happened.
Tonight we celebrated my sister's birthday. It was perfect with her family, our family, mom and dad and Aunt Jean. It has been a few weeks since we have seen Aunt Jean. She recently moved into Western Hills Retirement home. Between Alzheimer's and moving at 85 years old she has had a really tough time. My mom has been over so many times helping her to try and adjust, calling everyday and being the support she needs. The kids and I planned on going over last week, but it was a bit too soon. Tonight we picked her up for the party. We talked about her new "home" on the way to the party. The activities they have, how the kids have been etc. We had a nice time at mom's for the party and when it was time to go she was proud she remembered where I had put her keys. On the way back she said many times how wonderful the kids are. How much she has missed seeing them and how big they are. I told her we could all come and see her for brunch, now that she is settling in to her new routine. When we pulled up to drop her off she slowly got out of the car and said goodbye and thank you. She started to walk towards the door and stopped and looked in the window. I opened the door so she could see the kids. She looked at me, then looked at them and said "I love you". This is it. I am almost 31 years old and this is the first time I have heard her say these words. I can't tell you what it meant to me . I have always known that she loved me, but this was new. I am happy that she has gotten to a point in her life, though it may have taken 85 years, where she can say I love you. I am even happier that she said it to the kids and I. Now, if only she can get the courage up to say it to my mom. The little things that children say freely, kept so tight inside of this woman for so long. I bet she was happy when she went to bed tonight, hopefully she will remember, so the next time she won't be so nervous.