When I was growing up our special family dinners always included “Auntie Pearl” aka (Pearl Beckwith) – a 2nd, 3rd, removed??? cousin of my Dad’s. She was an unusual woman – born in Jamaica, never married and earned a living by living in other people’s homes while they went on vacation – looking after the home, their pets and often their children. In between contracts, she had a room at the old (no longer existing) Alexandra Hotel at Somerset and Bank Streets. Pearl was always meticulously turned out – I doubt she even owned casual clothing.
Many years have gone by and I find myself the Auntie Pearl of current times. I am on my own (though I was married briefly many years ago), certainly am rarely “meticulously” turned out, my closet is full of casual clothing and I enhance my IBM pension by working for several real estate agents. What we do have in common is being included in special family dinners. I am so lucky to have two 1st cousins here in Ottawa and their children and grandchildren and even luckier to be invited to their family gatherings at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. I am one Sheffield in a throng of Earles but they always make me feel so very welcome.
Easter, 2018 – Front Row – Julie Earle, Jennifer Earle, Steve Earle, Jamie Earle. Back Row: Sue Sheffield, Jeff Earle, John Earle
My brother, his three sons and their families, all live “away” – Toronto, Burlington, Guelph and Lake Mary, Florida. Busy lives and geographic distance result in, for the most part, somewhat distant relationships – but any time I do see, or even hear from, any or all of these folks, it is an extra special event.
Having no children or grandchildren of my own, my special friends play a huge role as part of my extended family and thank goodness for them. Knowing there is always somebody near by you can count on is huge.
I have no doubt we all define family differently based on our own life experience. However we define it, we are lucky to have it.