a long lost aunt

September 13th, 2016

The locals I met in Scotland were lovely, and it was so good to see my friend after almost 2 years, but it was really incredible to meet with Kim, a lady who used to be quite close with my mother’s family for many years of her life. Before meeting her I had learned that she was childhood best friends with my eldest aunt, but after she got into high school she started dating my eldest uncle, now deceased, and they were quite serious and even engaged. I never knew this uncle as well as I would have liked, so I was very curious to meet this woman who could’ve been my aunt.

I was unsure if things would work out, as is normal with international plans, but she was quite prompt with her correspondence and really seemed keen on setting up plans. As soon as we met, she was immediately warm and gave me a hug and helped me with my bags. We found a little bar to have a bottle of prosecco as we told each other about ourselves and our families. It was unfortunate that her sons had just left town because they sounded really great. She told me about her husband and his architecture and his recent epiphany about physics and how the world works and that he’s gone back to school to study about how to prove it. Eccentric a bit, but endearing. She’s loved living in Scotland and in Edinburgh it seemed, although she hasn’t traveled as much as she would like because her family is still in Chicagoland and that has required much of her travel time expenses. (This is often the case with not living where your family is from, as I learned from my bff who lived in San Diego). Her house along the water in Portobello seems just awesome and beautiful.

I told her about my family, too; my siblings, my parents, my aunts and my grandma, and we realized that although she couldn’t really recall my dad, it must have been him who gave her a ride to the train after my uncle’s funeral, and all she could say was that he was really nice, and a likeable man driving people around – sounds like my dad.

It was really fun to hear stories about my aunts and uncles when they were younger and how really close she was with my whole family throughout her childhood. She told me about borrowing my uncle’s record player to listen to the new Beatles tracks and going to the drive-in in the back seat with my uncles up front. She remembered my mom’s christening and my one aunt leaving home prematurely. She mentioned the nicknames they had for my grandparents and how different my uncles were. One aways very sporty, the other very artsy, but they got along so well. I liked that my late uncle Paul would say that his younger brother Steve was compulsively generous, as he still is today. She seemed to have pined a bit for my uncle until she was old enough to be considered as more than just his little sister’s friend, much to the chagrin of my aunt. But, childhood friendships do change as we get into high school and as we grow into our own.

Kim remarked that my family, although of German heritage, seemed more like an Italian family in regards to their passion and how they fought, but also in that they loved each other deeply and that was indisputable. My uncle Paul had much influence on her life and her life decisions, as she even decided to get a degree in English rather than art so as to not compete with him in, because Paul was a truly excellent artist, even though I have heard from mom that she herself is also extremely talented.

She was very much heartbroken and angry when things didn’t work out with my uncle, I could tell. I think they both regretted it a bit from what mom says about what Paul said before he passed. They reconnected a couple years before he died because email had become a thing, and they were both glad to speak with each other again and have some closure. She still misses asking him what he would think about this music or that, as I think we all do, because he was quite clever and had such an interesting take on things. He was a really amazing and talented guy, and it breaks my heart to not have been closer to him, but to have this little meeting with this person from his past, who knew him so well at one point, it was really touching for me. She had an inside and outside look, so to speak, such an interesting perspective, really.

I think it’s pretty amazing that it even worked out that we were able to meet and connect about such things in a place so far from our homes.