December 18, 2013

Everyone Needs an Aunt Ali

With the amazing story of my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece/goddaughter showing up everywhere on the web recently (originating on the Today Show's Mom's memory lives on in sweet dad, daughter photos and being featured as a wonderful segment here), I thought I'd re-share this tribute to her. I'm as proud of it as anything I've posted to TheLifeOfDad, as she told me it was her favorite column I'd ever written. (I tear up every time I reread it.) Thanks to Ben and Olivia for keeping her legacy of love alive.

My daughters are incredibly lucky because they have three amazing aunts. They have my wife's youngest sister, Aunt Melanie, who is a professional photographer and is constantly taking great pictures of our kids. They have my sister, Aunt Jennie, who is a social worker and can explain to the kids exactly how awesome I have always been—oh, I was pretty awesome at 7 years old "flying" around our house in a Greatest American Hero cape. (Wonder if they make those in adult sizes?) And they have my wife's middle sister, Aunt Ali, who is … well, Aunt Ali is lot of things.

Aunt Ali is fun.

Aunt Ali is funny.

Aunt Ali is forgetful and will leave her phone at your house, even when the reason for her visit was to pick up the purse she left there the night before.

Aunt Ali is the best at making cupcakes—especially ones that look like animals.

Aunt Ali is a lover of cotton candy, and will sneak your kids some assuming she hasn't eaten it all on her drive over.

Aunt Ali is a magnificent manicurist, sculpting your daughters' dirty kid nails into beautiful little girl nails. A layer of Aunt Ali's polish later—purple for Ella, blue for Anna—and both girls feel grown up … and special.

Aunt Ali is a hilarious commenter on Facebook, making you laugh even when calling you "Uncle Creepo" (see here).

Aunt Ali is silly.

Aunt Ali is a good cook—so much so that you will actually want to eat your vegetables.

Aunt Ali is a Michael Jackson fan and makes your kids want to learn to moonwalk just to impress her.

Aunt Ali is an excellent housekeeper, helping you time and time again after each kid is born. She asks for nothing in return, save maybe a few minutes of holding your baby—and a few sugary treats.

Aunt Ali is good at sharing and letting her sisters “shop” in her closet every time they are in dire need of something pink.

Aunt Ali is almost always wearing pink.

Aunt Ali is seriously almost always wearing pink.

Aunt Ali is—wait, I don't think you understand. Roughly 98% of her wardrobe is pink. The other 2% are clothes she borrowed from her sisters and never gave back.

Aunt Ali is nicknamed UB by your friends, which stands for "Ultra Babe."

Aunt Ali is a great finder of the best kids books (except for the time she found us the bathroom book The Gas We Pass, which I've only kind of forgiven her for).

Aunt Ali is an excellent reader, with the perfect arm-length-to-book ratio, allowing room for a couple of kids to cuddle on in.

Aunt Ali is a hell of a lot smarter than she often gets credit for.

Aunt Ali is a great bargain shopper and can find deals on anything. EDITOR NOTE: This does not mean she actually spends less money (which her hubby would prefer), only that she buys more things (like terrible bathroom books for your kids).

Aunt Ali is a wonderful mother. 

Aunt Ali is a fan of bows and headbands and will buy hundreds of thousands of them for your daughters. If you aren't careful, she'll buy one for you too, even if your name is "Dad."

Most important, Aunt Ali is, and always will be, an important part of our lives.

If you were lucky, you had an Aunt Ali growing up. If you are luckier, your kids will have one. She does nothing but put smiles on the faces of everyone she meets. Aunt Ali memories are the best of the best and remind you every day how much you should celebrate life and love the people around you—even if that means you have to moonwalk across the floor and hug them with sticky cotton candy fingers.

Aunt Ali is an amazing person. That's why we all love our Aunt Ali so much.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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ant daley said...

Everyone needs our Ali in their lives cuz she makes you feel special. Thank you, Brian!

Favorit Aunt Debbie said...

Not only is she a wonderful aunt, but she has been a beautiful, kind and loving niece. But if truth be told, she did get her love of pink (and maybe her beauty) from Favorite Aunt Debbie!! Just sayin!!

alissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alissa said...

to add to your list:

Aunt Ali is a lover of all things lost/stray.

Ali takes in stray families with no other family in town and lets the family (my family) call her "Aunt Ali." She taught me how to hold teenie-baby Will and feed him with one-hand by holding him in the nook of her legs crossed over one-another, it was like a lightbulb went off. I remember thinking to myself, 'Pure genius, and why didn't I figure that out yet?' (seriously, who knows how to do that who hasn't had children yet?) Ali, you helped me to be a good mom before you were even a mom yourself!

Also, she takes in stray dogs, that someone else finds and can't take them home themselves. And then, gives said stray dog a manicure, bath etc.

Aunt Ali is an inspiration, a model human being and, agreed brian, deal-finding guru of all sorts!

mel said...

we are all so thankful for aunt ali, especially our girls. i can't wait to see how she handles our baby boy!!
people who don't have an aunt ali in their life are truly missing out.

Kara Gebhart Uhl said...

Although I don't know Ali personally the world most definitely needs more people like her! Your family is so lucky to have her in your lives. (Also, loved this post.)

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is a beautiful tribute. Kudos, "Dad." I've heard so much about Ali through Lindsey's links and posts on FB. She's a blessing and inspiration to so many she doesn't know.

Juliann Wetz said...

I don't know Ali, but wish I did. You're right, Brian, we all need an Aunt Ali in our lives and our kids' lives. You are one incredibly lucky family to have her.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute. Brought tears to my eyes. She is a wonderful, multi-dimensional person.

jennifer said...

very wonderfully put :)
ps..the "uncle creepo" comment makes me lol every time. may be the funniest fb comment in history.

Natalie Mullholand said...

what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman!

She is also a Cavalier & always will be! she was "Aunt Ali" to so many of our students. we have all been blessed to have her in our lives. we pray for her every day!

Rachael said...

This is a beautiful post. After finding your "Snoogle" post on Google while searching for my own Rico, I decided to read your more recent post. This one, while I have never read your blog before, brought tears to my eyes. You are so very lucky to have such a wonderful person in your life. I hope my baby will have someone as special when he or she comes into the world in March. Thank you so much for sharing.

Hallie Sawyer said...

Aww, I love Aunt Ali and I don't even know her. What a sweet post to obviously a very special person. Thing that is great is that this is your sister-in-law. Your IN-LAW!

Does Aunt Ali make housecalls? :)

Simply Sharon said...

What a wonderful tribute. I am so sorry she was taken from your life too soon.

Melissa said...

Brian, you don't know me from Adam, but I want to tell you how sorry I am for your loss.

I suffer with terrible depression...and this week has been a doozy. After reading of Ali's passing and your devastation over her loss, I'm oddly encouraged to keep trying...that is, to get up in the morning and embrace the life that I have, despite the nagging dread I feel.

Ali seemed very much alive during her brief stay here on Earth. I hope to know even a tenth of her joy, generosity and love and to pass it on to others the way she did.

May God bless and comfort you.

~ Melissa

Melody said...

I'm one of your WD readers. This really was a wonderful tribute. The part about the pink clothes and bathroom book made me smile. Brian, I'm so sorry for your loss. It seems that Aunt Ali lived life to it's fullest. That should be said of all of us.

Gene said...

Like Melody, I am one of your WD readers too. I'm glad to find your blog and the personal side of the guy who helps us with "who" and "whom."

I am so sorry to hear that you and your family lost a wonderful woman. I have prayed for you and your family and trust God's blessings on you all as you deal with Ali's passing.

I think we all had a favorite aunt. Thanks for the reminder to me that I need to give my Aunt Dot a call today. It's been too long.

Anonymous said...

I'm a WD reader too and I thank you for sharing something so personal. So very very sorry for your family's loss. What a lovely tribute to remember her by. Hugs to your wife and girls. Thanks for sharing these stories.

Anut Becky said...

Oh my gosh. I just discovered you (your explorer child, your dad, and Aunt Ali) via HuffPost. I am so so sorry to hear about your dad and Aunt Ali! As I read this post, I thought "I AM an Aunt Ali!" :) However, many years ago my niece drew a picture of me titled "ANUT Becky". I am forever that. ♥

Subscribing now...

Melody said...

When I saw the pictures of your brother-in-law and his little girl I thought they were touching. Then I kept thinking about how familiar the woman looked. I didn't think much of it until I got the latest WD newsletter. I remembered her because you talked about her in a past WD newsletter and in this blog post about Aunt Ali.

Much love to you and your family this holiday season.

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