I remember when my oldest niece was born. My brother held her up so she could see all of us in the room and said, "These are your uncles and aunts. Your uncles are my brothers. Ants are little bugs that crawl around on the ground." That little baby started first grade last week. She's got three younger sisters now, and many more cousins than she used to. The layout of her dad's (and my) family has changed quite a bit over the years too.
Last Saturday my sister, M, left her abusive husband, an event that all of us are glad for. She's staying with our parents, and has been trying to get legal advice. I spoke with her on the phone and she said that it feels weird to think that she will soon be divorced. She said, "There's just a stigma of being divorced, and I know that it was wrong of me, but I used to look down on people who had been divorced. Now I'll be one of them." By way of consolation I told her that she has, at least, successfully avoided being the 'Spinster Aunt.' That title has been given to our 31 year old unmarried sister T. We laughed and then went on, "yeah, and our brother T is the chubby funny uncle, and our sister J is the bitter childless carreerist..." At this point there was a slight pause and M said, "I guess that would make you the normal one." "Wohoo!" I cheered, "I win!"
There are still plenty of clichéd aunt roles that I can fill. The tragic widow, the holier-than-thou good sister, the bully with a henpecked husband, and the list goes on. There are so many ways our lives can go 'wrong.' All of us really will have something go 'wrong' with our lives. I avoided so many pitfalls by watching my siblings struggle, and by listening to their advice and accepting their assistance. Today I was blessed to see just how right my life is going. I worry that it won't last, but there's nothing to do except enjoy it while I can.