Family Is a Safety Net

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When I was a child I had a plan in place “should anything happen to my mom and dad.” It was simple; I’d just go live with my Aunt Betty, my mom’s sister. Clueless as to what plans my folks might have made in that regard, my heart had found home. Aunt Betty was the one who sewed clothes for my doll, who let me hold my baby cousin and feed him his bottle, who invited me along on road trips with her family. And when, decades later, my mom actually died, she is the one who took my hand as we walked out of the funeral and said, “I guess I’m your mom now.” There she was again, a safety net below me, ever ready to catch!

Our close relationship continued through the years. Though I moved to Ohio and she remained in St. Louis, I made sure to share a meal with her every trip home. She made sure to stay involved in my life by knitting a doll and/or teddy bear for each of my grandchildren as they were born. And when, in 2015, things got dicey with her health due to diabetes and dialysis, I threw a family reunion in St. Louis, and took my kids and grandkids to it. I wanted them to see her and to know her better. I wanted her to see and know we were there for her, perhaps not a safety net, but indeed a soft cushion of love. And speaking of soft things, all the “Betty Dolls” and “Betty Bears” came to St. Louis too.

We lost Aunt Betty in 2017, and quite frankly, I’m not sure how much my grandkids (ages 2 – 9 at the reunion) will remember her, but they do remember the party and the many people they met, all of whom are their extended family. They also have me – a broken record on the importance of family – to remind them that if they ever have a problem in life that they cannot take to their parents, they are NOT alone. They have aunts, uncles, and cousins galore to whom they can turn. They have a safety net.

Lorie Kleiner Eckert is the grandmother of ten kids, ages 3-14. She is also an author, blogger, book reviewer, and quilt artist. You can follow her creative endeavors here: