How to tie balloons

March is Women’s History Month (in the US)

These are some of the women who have made a difference in my life.

Auntie Jo with my uncle on what I can only assume is my uncle’s birthday. This was shortly after they were married. Unfortunately, I cannot find my favourite photograph of Auntie Jo and I, taken at their wedding, in which she looks EVEN MORE radiant, if you can believe that.

When I asked my Auntie Jo how she’d met my uncle, she said “I had just started teaching [in the tiny Saskatchewan hamlet my mum’s family is from], and was living at the nurses’ residence, when your uncle came up and told me that he and a bunch of his buddies had been down at the shop flipping coins over who got to take me out on a date.”

“And that WORKED?”

“Well, no. But he kept bugging me, and eventually I gave in.”

Auntie Jo is, without a doubt, the nicest, kindest, most giving woman I know. She can do ANYTHING. And she’s willing to *try* anything. She has a quiet, gentle way. The only time I have *ever* heard her raise her voice is when my other uncle tossed a firecracker at her, and that was only a couple of years ago.

I was about six when Auntie Jo started dating my uncle. She was (and still is) amazing. To six-year-old me, she was one of the smartest women I had ever seen. She has this gap between her two front teeth, and when I asked her about it (as six-year-olds are wont to do), she said “oh, this is for tying balloons”. She proceeded to find a balloon, blow it up, and use the gap between her teeth to hold the blowy-inny-bit so she could grab it and tie it.

You could have picked my jaw up off the floor. I wish I had a picture of my face at that moment. That was, hands down, the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life.

Auntie Jo was a kindergarten teacher, and she could make anything out of anything. I remember sitting at Nama’s kitchen table with her, making pictures and doing crafts. I was seven when she and my uncle married, and I was their flower girl. The priest was kind of snotty about their even having a flower girl, but Auntie Jo and my uncle insisted that if I couldn’t walk down the aisle ahead of her, they wouldn’t get married in that church. I took that job SO SERIOUSLY. I’m not even kidding. The only wedding pictures they have with me smiling are the two they took with me sitting on their lap after the service was over.

Later, when she was expecting my cousin, she put my hand on her belly, and I felt a baby kick for the first time. Talk about magic. When he was born, I was old enough to help change his diapers (he peed on me) and bathe him (he peed on me) and take him swimming at the pool (he peed on me) and read him bedtime stories (he would have peed on me, I’m sure). I never felt more confident, more *able* than when I was with Auntie Jo.

I was a terrible teenager, and when I did things that were really shitty (like leaving a huge mess in Grandpa’s house for the home care ladies to clean up), Auntie Jo sat me down and ‘had a talk’. I never, ever felt worse about anything I had done than when I had to have a talk with her. My mother could have screamed at me for hours. My father could have stormed off in disgust, and I wouldn’t have blinked. But when Auntie Jo said “I’m disappointed in you, Jillian”, I was *devastated*.

When I had The Captain, I realized that it was Auntie Jo’s voice in my head reminding me how to change a diaper, how to burp the kid, not to freak out when he cried (although he really didn’t cry very often), how to be patient, how to let him be sometimes…my own mum was never comfortable with babies and toddlers – her favourite was about 9-16 (which, in my opinion, is weird). I think the world of this woman. She has, pretty much single-handedly, made that branch of our family one hundred percent more awesomer. When I see the way my uncle (of whom I also think the world) looks at her the way he did the first time he introduced her to me when I was six, my heart completely explodes.





i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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