Having been such a constant in my life, Aunt Vi has helped to shape who I am as a person. Some of the values I hold are rooted in her ways: a love of kindness for others, a deep rooted value for education, and a belief in the American dream.
The letter "V" is much easier for me to write about than the letter "U." On June 7th, 2009, I started a series of articles on what was then Associated Content about my dear old Aunt Vi. Back then Aunt Vi was still around, 101 years of age and beginning to wane. The birthday I spoke of in my introduction to the series "The Aunt Vi Chronicles" would turn out to be her last, as she passed of natural causes in July of that year. What would have been her 104th birthday, May 13th, is coming up and I thought that this would be as good a time as any to pay her a little tribute since it's been so long since I spoke of her.
I'm not sure what I can say about Aunt Vi that I haven't already said before. She was one of those people who had always been around in my life since I was a baby. She was a loving, kind person with a strong personality and an even stronger devotion towards her family. Aunt Vi never had children of her own, not having married Uncle Tony until she was in her 50's, so she showered her love on all of her nieces and nephews, which were many.
Aunt Vi moved out to Long Island from the Bronx in 1979 to babysit the six of us while my mom went to work. Uncle Tony had just passed suddenly a few months before, and though she had second thoughts about coming, she did finally move and I think in the end it turned out to be a great decision for her.
Until she'd moved, it was I as the eldest, who had to take care of my siblings every night and in later years Aunt Vi would often tell a story of how she came into the house as I was changing my baby sister's dirty diaper and she told me to go out and play as she took over. I'm not sure if it went down exactly like that, but she did rescue me from that onerous chore and I'll forever be grateful that she let me be a kid again for just a little while.
I'm sure my siblings and even some of the neighborhood kids can remember those years when Aunt Vi babysat for us. Though occasionally she'd say that it was hard work, I believe she loved every minute of it. During those years, she was not only our aunt, but everybody's Aunt Vi, always around us and our friends and often treating the whole gang to Mister Softee or Good Humor on a hot summer night.
The apple of Aunt Vi's eye, though, was my baby sister Chrissy, whom she had a big hand in raising. I can recall many a night when Aunt Vi would read stories to her, help her with her homework, and teach her how to play cards, oftentimes letting her win, and always with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. Until the day she passed, Chrissy was her "baby."
I feel lucky to have had an Aunt Vi in my life. She not only "rescued" me from my babysitting chores, but she inspired me in many ways. From her, I learned kindness and compassion, pride for both my country and my ancestry, a love for writing, and most of all she helped me to develop my own nurturing ways which paved the way towards my wonderful role as a teacher.
So thank you Aunt Vi for being a part of my life. I want you to know that even though you are gone, you will never be forgotten. I and many others still miss you!
If you'd like to read more of the Aunt Vi Chronicles, check out these pieces: