I love MY NIECES AND NEPHEWS. Not because I have to. I do because of the people they are, the people they can be, and the people I see them becoming. Let me tell you about them…
- Sara, the oldest, daughter of my sister Dana. The first grandchild on both sides of the family. She has an absolutely wonderful singing voice. I remember hearing her sing the song “The Movie in My Mind” from Miss Saigon many years ago. I saw the show on Broadway and in London, but she sang it better than I have ever heard it. She’s totally creative….I’ve enjoyed watching her creations in fashion shows these past few years and the other projects she comes up with. But her best quality? She’s an amazing caretaker. When my sister was in a motorcycle accident several years ago, Sara dropped everything and nursed her through some tough days. I’ve never been prouder of her. She is fierce in her love.
- Rachel, also daughter of Dana. She is warm and nurturing. A special education teacher. She is solid and steady. Someone who lives her faith well. She is the crafty one….she always is coming up with some cute little project that makes you smile. I remember when she was little and made us pictures out of pieces of cloth for Christmas. She used the sparkly material on mine, because as she said I was “the flashy one.” It still makes me laugh. Rachel graduated from Appalachian and the whole time she was there would come home weekends to work. (Well, maybe to see her now-husband, too.) She has a strong work ethic and is extremely loyal. Especially to her family.
- Spenser, daughter of my sister Deryn. When I went to Italy when she was a little girl I sent her a postcard of a gondola in Venice and told her I was going for a ride on one. When I got home, she had made me a special gift. A gondola made out of a Kleenex box. Three-dimensional. Me and the gondolier cut out and colored and sticking out of the top of the box. My sister said she cried because she couldn’t get my hair color right. (My sister reassured her that whatever color she used, I would one day have my hair that color. She was right.) I still have that gondola, though the Kleenex box part bit the dust years ago. One of my prized possessions. Spenser has been my craft partner…and since I am not good at crafts, you can imagine the pain she has endured…and also my partner working out. Yes, we have laughed a lot! She is very easy going and has great patience with her aunt! When she graduated from high school we went to New York City – where we learned she has the Broadway bug like me and her mom!
- Brennan is the son of my sister Deryn. He is the most like my dad – he has that natural engineering mind. He can fix almost anything and is always fixing cars of some type or another. Good thing since he has also wrecked a few! I remember when Brennan first started saying he wasn’t going to college that it broke my heart. He has such a quick mind….I felt like he was wasting it. But I realized that he had a strong mind of his own, and he didn’t like school. He has so many skills, and is a hard worker, so he will always be able to make money. One of the coolest things about Brennan is his relationship with his dad’s mom, his grandma. He was incredibly sweet with her. When she was in the hospital, he would crawl into the bed next to her. I love that he loves so well.
- John Scott is the son of my brother Scott. Oh, he is so much like my brother! Was a bit of a pain in the rear during his high school years, but oh…the sweet side has come back these past few years. He works as a CNA at Broughton Hospital. When he first said he was going to do that, I wondered how he would like it. He has loved it. He has the compassion and the brains that I am sure works well in combination. Now he says he thinks he will go into law enforcement. I think whatever he ends up doing, he is going to do it with a lot of heart. One of the things that is very cool about him is that he never forgets to say thank you….and mean it.
- Ben is the son of my sister Dana. He is a bit of a wild child. He has a mind of his own, and generally has to learn from experience. He is stubborn, and outspoken, but also has a lot of natural charm. He’s at that time of life where he is trying to figure out things for himself, how to balance his strengths and weaknesses. He’s been around a lot of handy people in his life, so there are definitely some skills there. I’m cheering him on and looking forward to seeing him successful and happy.
- Maggie is the daughter of my brother Scott. Oh, she is a mess! She is funny and fun and also bright and compassionate. She is my true success story….I finally got one of them to Chapel Hill….and she is loving it there. She does college much like I did….involved in everything and trying to gather as many experiences as she can. I have laughed more with her than probably any other person. When she used to stay with me, we used to have what she called “giggle time” before we went to sleep. We would lay in bed and talk and giggle ourselves silly! I am most proud of Maggie because she is her own woman….she makes her own decisions and sticks by them. She is driven by her faith, and looks for ways to serve. She manages to find fun ways to do that, because she is all about the fun!
- Taylor is the daughter of my brother Derek. She has always been a daddy’s girl. She is my first niece or nephew to really love reading….surprising since all of my siblings and I are big readers! I love seeing her with her nose in a book. I enjoy shopping with Taylor. It has been fun to see her develop her own fashion sense. She has her own style and a good feel of what outfit works on her body. Taylor is at that part of life where she is trying to figure out exactly who she is going to be, and what she is going to do with her life. It is fun to see her exploring. She is independent and doesn’t reveal her cards easily, but that sweetness that she has had since a child will always resurface.
- Beau is the stepson of my brother Scott. I was already friends with his mom Beth before she and Scott knew each other, so I was watching Beau even before he became part of our family. When Scott and Beth married, Beau became a family member too. It did not take a period of transition….it happened immediately and naturally. At a time in life when a lot of boys are not publicly affectionate, Beau was always ready to give me a hug….even when he was in front of a group of his friends. Especially cool for a “new aunt.” He’s an athlete, and such a good guy besides. I can already see what a good man he is going to become. He was meant to be part McKinney!
- Addison is the daughter of my brother Derek. She is a pistol! Smart and sassy. She is an animal lover and would probably take care of all of the stray cats in the world if given the chance. Addison can clean and organize anything. She is direct and forthright and opinionated. When she was younger and the three youngest nieces would spend the night, Addison would usually end up in my bed in the morning. She appreciated the snuggle time alone with me….and I with her. It’s going to be an interesting few years to see what direction she heads in and what she ends up doing in life. I think she plans to kick Deryn out of the apartment complex.
- Cross is our baby – he just turned ten. He is Derek’s son. He is unbelievably creative and loquacious. The boy can spin a yarn like no one’s business. He was a premie and when he was born I still had my own business in town. For his first year of life, he stayed at the office with me and my sister Deryn. He would sit in my lap as I would type at my keyboard and try to help. If he got particularly fussy, I would walk with him outside. As soon as he felt the breeze outdoors, it calmed him. We’ve always had a strong bond…and he probably can grab my heart like no other!
I adore each of them, and think they are each incredibly special. I decided to move back to Statesville because of these kids. Not having children of my own, when the choice came to move far away for my job or move back home, I chose home. It was a good decision. Watching them grow up has been wonderful, and heartbreaking, and has broadened my prayer life and my faith. I suspect that will continue for the rest of my life, because I love my nieces and nephews.