As I think of my family, I am lucky (most of the time) to have grown up with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, so forth.
As far back as I can remember, my grandmother had white hair. I believe she was in her 80s when I was born. She passed away when I was 21.
Growing up, I had ten aunts and uncles on my Mom's side and six uncles and aunt on my Dad's side. Yes, I know it is a lot. I have to admit that I am definitely closer to my Mom's side since they were all here in town with me. Plus, my Dad's brothers and sister were all in the wind - God only knows where they are right now. My uncles (Mom's brothers) have always loved to tease me. If there were more than one in the room, it was like a tag team.
Recently, I lost my last uncle. I am finally able to think about him without tearing up. He was 85 years old, a World War II vet, and to top it off - he loved to pick on me. Some of my friends have been on the phone with me when he would call just to talk to me and they can attest to at least my side of the conversation. His favorite line "are you crazy?!" LOL
In the last few months of his illness, he was weak and did not talk above a whisper but I could hear him and it didn't stop our banter back and forth. If I called, my aunt would tell him I was on the phone, and he'd say give me that phone let me talk to her. He'd say "how's my favorite niece doing?" Knowing him, he probably told every since one of his nieces that.
I miss that ol' dude, I don't have anyone to pick on me anymore. And the funny thing is when I was little it would bother me and I'd get mad and not talk to him - now I miss it so, so much.
I know I have the memories, and he is no longer in pain - still, there is an empty space that was left. It joins the others that have been left as my family has left me. I have four aunts, but you know aunts just love on you and they'd never be able to take his place. I love them just the same.