Waiting in anticipation for niece’s arrival

Andrea Joseph

What does it mean to be an aunt? That question has been floating around in my head since the day in October when I heard I was going to become one.
What does it mean to be an aunt? That question has been floating around in my head since the day in October when I heard I was going to become one.

Some may wonder why it’s such a big deal. Perhaps it means so much to me because I don’t have children of my own. I’m fortunate to have a good relationship with both my brother and sister-in-law, who is an only child, so I hope to share in the life of my niece as she grows.

And when I heard the name they have chosen for their little girl, it touched me deeply because they incorporated my middle name – Lynne – into her first.

Brooklynn Elise.

Although she’s not yet made an appearance – she’s scheduled for late June – I’ve already begun thinking about who she’ll be and what we’ll do together.

My brother and “sister” live a few hours north, but I can’t wait to someday share Gilroy’s famous Garlic Festival with my niece. If she’s anything like her auntie, she’ll no doubt fall in love with the peppersteak sandwiches, the garlic fries – but the garlic ice cream? Probably not so much.

Someday I’ll take her to Gilroy Gardens, where we’ll spin in the garlic twirl and hang out on the mushroom swing. I imagine she’ll be delighted by the odd and twisting circus trees.

And no doubt she’ll be into sports. If my teal-wearing brother doesn’t introduce her to the San Jose Sharks, you can bet I’ll share the love of hockey I gained in childhood while watching the L.A. Kings. But her mom bleeds red and gold, as in the 49ers, so my niece may be more a fan of the pigskin than the puck.

Will she be an athlete and be involved in high school volleyball and softball as I once was? Will she go into a career in law enforcement like her mom and dad, attend my alma mater or follow a completely different path and forge ahead, making her own way?

If I get the chance, as she grows older I’ll tell her about things she may never know: cassette tapes, landline phones and how newspapers used to be delivered to the front porch – not just instantaneously via the Internet.

Maybe we’ll talk about major events – the collapse of the Berlin wall, Sept. 11, 2001 – events she never witnessed, but those she’ll learn about in school that shaped the world she’ll one day inherit.

With police officer parents, I wonder what kind of trouble she’ll get into – because we’ve all been there. Will it be as innocent as my brother and me crouched in bushes with a wallet lying in the middle of our street tied to some string? Or finding our large stash of tadpoles had grown into frogs and scattered around the house – dead and stuck to the carpet – when we returned from a family trip? If she’s anything like my brother and me, there will undoubtedly be ongoing headaches for her parents. But hopefully, with a little guidance, she’ll get through those growing pains and eventually look back with a chuckle.

And perhaps one day, her parents will trust me enough to let us spend some one-on-one time, so I can share with her my love of traveling, tasting new foods and experiencing other cultures. The ultimate goal is to create memories she will reflect on and stories that she will someday tell with laughter and fondness.

But until those days come, my travels will continue to take me a few hours north so I can watch her mommy’s belly grow and her daddy’s eyes sparkle in anticipation. I was recently involved with their baby shower and look forward to a trip next month when I can finally hold the niece who shares a piece of my name.

Though I don’t share names with any of my aunts, I do have special relationships with them that began in childhood and continue today. If I’m able to build a relationship with my niece when she’s young – and any other little ones that may come along – and if it carries on into her adult life, then I’ll finally understand what being an aunt really means.

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