Over the years of jabbering on about house stuff I occasionally get questions about my family. How many siblings I have, how I grew up, etc. I always say it was a somewhat un-traditional childhood… in the best possible way. I was raised by my mom and dad, who split up when I was very young (a few years after my younger brother Daniel was born) so we just had two houses and bounced happily between them.
I remember when a kid at school once teased me for having divorced parents and I put the “I have two houses and you only have one and I get double the holiday presents” spin on it. Looking back, it was a moment of pure genius. Haha. No more teasing.
I also grew up with my half brother Adam, who was born after my dad married my step mom Nina a while later (he was 11 years younger than me). You might remember him from his cameo in the most embarrassing moment ever caught on film when I was 17.
But I always say I’m the oldest of five – and the only girl. So where do the other two fit in? Well, my Aunt Kay Kay (as we lovingly call my mom’s sister) and her two sons named David and Darius actually moved in with us when my brother and I were very young (my brother was 3 and I was 6). My mom is one of seven children, and while many of my aunts and uncles lived closer, Aunt Kay Kay and her kids used to live in Maryland, so we didn’t get to see our cousins very often, who were 2 and 4 at the time when they moved in… which was just one of about a million reasons we were SO excited for them to move in with us.
My aunt had been diagnosed with a craptastic disease called Multiple Sclerosis, so raising all four of us under one roof with my mom was a way that my mom could lend a hand to my aunt and also a way that my aunt could help us. My mom’s an attorney, and back in those days she was working her buns off to make partner at her firm, so she often got home late. So it was great to come home to my aunt after school, and on most nights she cooked us dinner and helped us with our homework. It was kind of a crazy house with four kids so close in age (four kids born within five years), but growing up with them honestly made me who I am today. Here’s my Aunt Kay Kay with me and my cousin David in the pool when we were little. Isn’t she beautiful?
My aunt was always laughing. She was “the nice one” while I, being the oldest of all the boys, proudly wore my title as “the bossy one.” My brother was “the smart one,” my cousin Darius was “the funny one,” my cousin David was “the crazy one,” and my mom was “the strict one.” So you can guess that when it came down to asking an adult if we could do something… well, we’d usually ask my aunt before my mom.
It was an odd little madhouse, but it was our madhouse and we loved it. So when people ask me how many siblings I have, I usually just say that I’m the oldest of five, and the only girl. But for those who have time for more details, I explain that my total includes one brother, one half brother, and two cousins who grew up under one roof with us like they were our brothers. We had all sorts of adventures over the years – from building forts in the woods to epic sock fights (don’t ask) and karate tournaments in New York City (that’s Darius on the left, me next to him, Daniel second from the right, and David on the right). We kicked some booty that day.
My aunt battled with her multiple sclerosis like a champ. Always smiling and making jokes. Always working hard to stay mobile. First she walked with a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair, and for the last ten years or so she has been bedridden. Didn’t stop her from smiling (most notably when we stuck Burger or Clara in her bed – that always made her giggle). Strongest, bravest and sweetest woman I know.
Yesterday she passed away. It was a very very sad day. So although this might sound like a bummer of a post, I wrote it because I always wanted to remember how amazing and life-changing it was to grow up with such an awesome lady in my life. And I want Clara to be able to read about her Great Aunt Kay Kay someday. She could light up a room then, and thinking about her now brings a smile to my face. Just picturing us all gathered around the breakfast table fills me with nostalgia.
We’ll be back this afternoon with some regular DIY-related fare. In the meantime, feel free to tell/call/text/email/skype the ones you love. Family is such a blessing. And I’m so thankful for the one I got.
So very sorry for your loss Sherry & family. Thinking of you at this hard time.
Sherry, that is LOVELY post. The people we love never really leave us as they live on in our hearts and our memories. I hope it gives you strength to remember that a sunset on Earth is a sunrise in Heaven.
“A sunset on Earth is a sunrise in Heaven.” beautiful.
So sorry for your loss, Sherry. You and your family are in my thoughts. Your aunt sounds like she was a wonderful woman and an inspiration. I hope your memories of her will help guide you in this difficult time. xo
Condolences to you and your family. I too was blessed with a terrific Aunt who made my life so much richer. Her relationship with my mother helped mold the sister relationship I now have with my two sisters. Family is what makes life worth living. Hugs, Theresa
dervla @ The Curator says
Sherry, that was a gorgeous post and I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. She sounds like an incredible woman and you’ve done her memory justice by preserving it here. She certainly was beautiful and you look a lot like her in the photos you showed. Thank you for sharing that.
So very sorry for your loss…thinking about the amazing women that have come and gone in my life and feeling, like you, so very thankful.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Sherry. What a beautiful tribute to your aunt.
I’m so sorry for your loss Sherry. As Kate said, those we love never really leave us.
i am so sorry for your loss. she sounds like an awesome lady and i’m sure you all will miss her very much.
I’m so sorry for your loss Sherry. It sounds like even back then you knew how to make the best of every situation you found yourself in!
Hugging all my fam extra close the next time I see them!
Sherry, thank you so much for sharing. What a lovely post. My parents were divorced and I told my friends the exact same thing as you. Your aunt sounds like a wonderful woman and she, along with your mum and dad, obviously did a great job of raising you. I’m so happy she got to meet Clara and see you settled and happy with John.
My mum has been battling cancer this year. It’s been tough but such a reminder to make sure those you love know how much you love them because you never know what’s going to happen.
Urban Wife says
I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to your Aunt. Praying for y’all!
A beautiful post for a beautiful person.
What a beautiful post to honor Aunt Kay Kay. She sounded like a wonderful woman and my thoughts are with you, your mom, your brothers, and the rest of your family at this difficult time. She will never be forgotten and her beauty and humor will live on in you, Clara, and your mom.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear aunt, Sherry.
Erin C. says
I’m so sorry for your loss, Sherry. It sounds like your aunt was absolutely beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. xoxo
Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. says
Thanks for sharing your story, Sherry. We could all use a reminder now and then of how important family is.
I’m so sorry for your loss, but so happy that you were able to share such great times with her. We’ll keep you guys in our prayers.
Oh, Sherry, I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss and the loss that your cousins, mom and extended family are experiencing. Please, please let the blog go and take all the time you need to be with your family, to take care of yourself and to celebrate the beautiful life that was your Aunt. God bless you.
Love and prayers to you and your family dear Sherry – your aunt sounded like such a wonderful person. Thankyou for sharing even more of your story with us. I’ll be thinking of you through this difficult time xx
(Reading this post I couldn’t help but think that all those brothers were the reason your were sent sweet Clara to have plenty of girl time with :)
Sherry, I am so sorry for your loss and having lost my aunt that I was extremely close to, I totally feel for you and for your family. This was beautiful to read, and very personal. Thanks so much for sharing. Really.
So sad. My dad has MS :( You are lucky to have been able to spend so much time and make so many memories with her.
What a beautiful tribute to not only your Aunt but your entire family. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this look into your life. Best wishes to you and your family.
Vidya @ Whats Ur Home Story says
So sorry for your loss Sherry. That was such a sweet post. Brought tears to my eyes. I’m glad that you have such happy memories about her.
So sorry for the loss in your family. Your post shows your love and family values. I have a family member suffering with MS as well and it is rough. Glad your aunt had the life she did with the family to support her.
Sherry, so sorry for your loss! Thinking about you and your family!
So sorry for your loss.
What a blessing to grow up in such a fun, loving environment and to know your aunt and cousins so well.
I’ll be thinking and praying for you and your family, Sherry.
Oh Sherry, I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family, she sounds like a remarkable woman and the love that you have for her really shines through in this post.
Aww Sherry I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had such a special, fun childhood. I’m thinking about you guys today.
Through blurry teary eyes I’m smiling and thinking of you and your family today! God Bless, and I am so very sorry for your loss. She sounds like an amazing lady!
That brought tears to my eyes. Sounds like she was an absolutely lovely woman. It’s hard to lose someone who helped make you who you are. My grandmother passed away a few months ago (I still cry)…but she never completely left this world because she made such an impression on so many. And that’s a comforting thought.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
What a beautiful post, such a wonderful way to capture the love you have for your aunt and your family.
I’m so sorry for your loss Sherry. This post was a lovely tribute to your aunt. All the best to you and your family.
Erin Roy says
I’m so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you at this difficult time. But what a lovely post in honor or your Aunt.
I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful way to remember your aunt!
So sorry for your loss, Sherry. I will keep you and your extended family in my prayers.
When I lost my twin brother, I read this Eskimo proverb that helps me everytime I look into the night sky:
Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.
Thinking of you and your family . . .
I am so sorry for the loss in your family, Sherry. MS is a rotten disease and she must have been an amazing woman to have battled it for so long.
Pascaline Stevens says
Sending you love from Winnipeg <3
My condolences to you and your family. She sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing this moving tribute.
Oh Sherry, I’m so sorry for your loss. I love that you took it on such a positive spin and proudly share the way she influenced your life. I had an aunt that had a special impact on my life too, and I miss her everyday. I’m so thankful for the family I do have, even if they live more than 7 hours away. Sending virtual hugs your way!
So sorry for your loss, it sounds like she was a wonderful person that had a great life!
Beautiful post. I’m very sorry for your loss, but so glad you were able to share this with us (and someday, Clara.)
“…As I set forth into the day the birds sing with new voices and I listen with new ears and give thanks.” Harriet Kofalk
Hugs to you! MS is craptastic having lived with it myself for six years, but knock on all the wood in the world I have no symptoms. I noticed something in your post that you may not have and that I noticed in my own journey with MS: It’s a blessing in disguise. Although it’s sometimes hard to see it that way: But you gained two siblings! You gained more of a relationship with your aunt. You experienced more love. May you hold all those loving memories in your heart as you grieve. Thinking of you and your “untraditional” (who needs traditional anyways?!) family. Blessings to you!
So glad that you’re symptom free! What a blessing! I think medicine has come a long way in the last decade, and it’s only getting better. You’re so right about all of the amazing blessings I gained.
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. My Aunt also had MS . She died 5 yearsago from leukemia, a sad side effect from one of the medications she was on.
I’m so sorry for your loss Kristena. It’s a totally crappy disease. My brother got his doctorate of chemistry to help try to find a cure to terrible things like this. He’s really smart (he was known as “the smart one” – haha) so I have faith…
Rachel @ The House of Burks says
I am very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with your family today.
Sherry what a beautiful post! I couldn’t imagine you growing up in any other way. I spend 90% of my time at work managing a large multiple sclerosis study, so I understand how difficult this disease can be. It sound like your aunt was unbelievably strong and battled heroically. I’m so glad you are able to remember her in this way. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
I lost my aunt to MS two years ago. She was an amazing woman and the disease robbed us of her long before she passed. But we always remember her strong faith and terrible jokes :) It is comforting to know they are finally free from this terrible disease. My prayers are with your family.
shanna o. says
I’m so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your dear aunt.
I have to thank you for this post for another reason. My husband and I are divorcing and we have two small (ages 4 and 6) children. While I know the divorce is ultimately the right decision, I have been torn apart by worries about the kids. Reading about your view about your parents’ divorce as a young child just warmed my heart … to know that a child can be happy with two homes, it just made me feel tons better. So thank you for this, even if it was not your intention in posting.
I too felt the same exact way when reading Sherry’s post. (Sherry, your aunt was a beautiful woman, she looks just like your mom. May your heart find its peace in knowing all her pain is finally over. She is dancing with the angels in heaven.) But, I too am going through a divorce, and I have a 4-year-old son. It pains me everyday knowing that he will grow up without his father being around everyday. But reading that Sherry, who is absolutely and perfectly normal, was a product of divorced parents, makes the pain of going through this divorce much easier to bear. Thank you Sherry for showing that our children will turn out to be happy, silly, funny and most especially loving.