Today we celebrate and honor our moms! Some of us are fortunate enough to still have ours in our presence today, while others will remember theirs with a special tribute or memory of all they loved and learned while mom was present on earth. But there are also those women in our lives whom are not our mothers by birth, but also have played an instrumental role in our upbringing. Those ladies who’ve been there for me are my aunts! They have formulated my life in ways they may not have realized until they read this post today. So, while I honor my mom today and always, I also want to give a big shout out to my other “moms” whom I affectionately call Aunt Cindy and Aunt Susie.
Like me, Cindy has never had children, at least not the human kind. But, even though she didn’t bear any children of her own, she has provided the love, guidance and support to all of her nieces and nephews. Cindy has never forgotten a birthday, holiday or special event in our lives. Not once!! If no one else wished me Happy Birthday, I know I can always count on this very one person to make sure I receive a card or calls to sing Happy Birthday to me. Most of the times, it’s both! We get an anniversary card from her every year, mind you, she’s the only person who has done this now for 24 years. As I’ve grown into an adult, my bond with her has become stronger. I love going to visit her and go shopping at some of her favorite antique shops, crafting vendors and home decor boutiques (of course she lives in Carlisle and that literally could be my second home, so that doesn’t hurt when it comes to traveling to her place).
Cindy introduced me to making cards. I’ve mentioned how she doesn’t miss the opportunity in sending cards. In the early years, cards were ONLY by Hallmark, but then I began getting these handmade cards. And one by one, I became more intrigued and wanted to know how to make them too. So, I took a beginners stamping class at a now closed store in State College. Of course, I encouraged my mom and sister to come with me. While Liz didn’t join in right away, my mom did go with me, and let’s just say…we’ve been all stamping ever since. Often together, as we would travel to Cindy’s and take classes at the stores available to her, since there were none in Altoona.
Affectionately known as the “white glove sister, Cindy is the middle sister of three (my mom is the eldest). Her home is always impeccably kept and her decorating is superb. When we visit, we walk around and gawk at everything, taking pictures to remind us how to do something in our own homes later. I’m sure you’ve seen me post pictures from my many visits to her house, here is one of my favorite corners – some day it will be missing after one of my visits.
Cindy will turn 70 this year. I remember throwing her a 40th birthday party and thinking then 40 was an awesome age, can’t wait to be 40 and have the fun she is having in life and do the things she’s doing. Now as I close into being 50 and Cindy turns 70, that wow factor has somehow gone away. As we age gracefully, I no longer wish the years away, so instead I will celebrate her birthday and maybe, just maybe, we will celebrate together in Waco, Texas at the Magnolia Market. How cool would that be?
“When you care enough to send the very best”, is the well known Hallmark slogan. And early on in my impressionable years, my other aunt – my mom’s baby sister, Susie, worked for Hallmark. So our love of Hallmark anything makes sense since she was a representative for the company. And, here’s probably where the influence of being a sales rep came into play. How cool was it to go into the Hallmark stores and do inventory and merchandise the stores. Pretty darn cool when you’re 10-11 years old. And then to be moving to the “big” city of Pittsburgh was even cooler. Wow, so cool! So, I discovered via Susie very early on that I didn’t want a desk job, I wanted to travel in my work, to be around new people each day, and not be bored in the same place day after day. Maybe some day I would even work in Pittsburgh. (Thanks Susie, I’m definitely not bored!)
Susie moved to Pittsburgh when my sister and I were just little girls. Perhaps to chase a dream or maybe to get away from the small town of Altoona. Regardless, her adventures would take her away from here, and we didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked. Sometimes on holidays, but back then it wasn’t cheap to travel home and moving to the big city, just like today, was expensive. Retail jobs had you working weekends, so the breaks were not as fluent. But, there’s still those impressions you make on people even miles away from home.
I remember the day Susie and Jim wed. They lived in a small apartment in Crafton, PA and their reception was back at the apartment. It was such a cute apartment and like Cindy, Susie has an uncanny way of decorating her home on a shoe string budget and makes it look like it comes out of Saks 5th Avenue. (Perhaps where my sister gets the knack for this too). I loved her apartment and I remember thinking some day, I want to live here too. To follow my dreams and not be afraid of taking a risk.
While I didn’t move away to Pittsburgh, I have learned to take risks. To believe in myself and know that whatever happens God is on my side. Thank you, Susie!
And then there is MY Mom! My mom has taught me a lot of things over the years. Probably, one of the most important lessons in life is learning to be independent. The need to not rely on another individual to make it in life. Now, there are limitations to this, and I probably tend to be a little too independent, but I’m sufficient on my own and have the confidence to do so. I may not always make the right choices, I second guess myself a lot, I hate making decisions at times, but overall and through it all, I know I can do these things and will be ok out there on my own. Luckily, I’m not fully ever on my own, as I have a wonderful support system through both my parents, sister, extended family, friends and my spouse.
I’m very fortunate to have these three ladies in my life. Without them, I would not be who I am today. So, while I get to celebrate with my mom today, I’m wishing my other moms a very special day, too!
In just a few short weeks, we will all be getting together for the Heikes Girls Weekend! Four generations of Heikes women will gather at my sister’s new home to shop, eat, drink, laugh, cry, explore our Alma Mater – Penn State, and enjoy our unbreakable family bond!
Happy Mother’s Day to All!!
Love and Blessings,