Last weekend we made the drive back to my hometown to watch my niece, Ashley, graduate from high school. As you might guess from that statement, my older siblings are quite a bit older than me. In fact, the age difference between me and my sister (Ashley’s mom) is the same as that between me and Ashley: 9 1/2 years. Ashley is probably the closest thing I have to a little sister. We spent a lot of time together during her pre-school years when my mom babysat her. I love all my nieces and nephews, of course, but circumstances have placed Ashley and I together more often than the others.
Here we are in 2002 during Li’l Sibs Weekend at Cedarville University. I was a freshman and Ashley was in 4th grade. We had a lot of fun that weekend, hanging out and making memories.
Fast-forward to 2006 and here she is as one of my bridesmaids (the middle one) along with my other niece, Jesse (far left).
And here she is all grown up and a high school graduate. The time sure flies. Do we really share some of the same genes?
Waiting to get her diploma in the very hot gymnasium
Posing with her grandparents (my parents) after the ceremony. They weren’t ready for the lens to snap, but I like how this one turned out anyway.
Graduation was actually the last event of the weekend. On our way into town, we stopped to visit with my Great Aunt Ruth, who recently moved into a nursing home. At 97, it’s amazing that she’s just now making that move! She had been living by herself for the last 30 years or so. We found her quite changed, but there were still glimpses of the old Aunt Ruth I have loved for so long. In many ways, Aunt Ruth has been like a second grandma on my dad’s side of the family. To me, and many of my cousins. She never married and her sisters and many, many nieces and nephews have been her primary focus. I can hear her laugh in my head as clearly as if she were sitting next to me. Oh, how she loves to laugh and bring smiles to the faces around her. Her health is failing now, and I don’t know how much longer she’ll be with us. I’m so glad we got to stop in and bring a smile to her face.
As circumstance would have it, another great aunt, Ruth’s sister, Evelyn, was two doors down in the same home. Aunt Evelyn is just there temporarily, recovering from a fall, and it was good to see her as well. It had been probably about 4 years since we’d last seen each other, and she’s still very much the same lovely Aunt Evelyn I’ve always known.
We also got to hang out for a bit with my brother and sister-in-law and briefly see their two kids, attend the church in which I grew up, spend some relaxing time with my parents, and hang out with my best friend’s younger brother and two golden retrievers. Before the trip, I was a little anxious about how some of the details and dynamics would work out, but it was an all-around great visit.