Growing up in Pasadena, I looked around for role models, really without knowing I was even doing that! My Aunt Betty, Aunt Carmel, and Aunt Kathleen, my mom’s three sisters, were always so positive and encouraging that I didn’t have to look far.
I don’t remember much about Aunt Lean dating or marrying Uncle Bill Byrne but I remember all the laughter. Isn’t it funny how we can’t often remember the jokes, but we remember the laughter? Once Aunt Lean made up her mind about Uncle Bill, he didn’t have a chance. Who could resist Pasadena’s sweetheart? The girl with the larger than life heart? Aunt Lean was teaching in Irishtown when she met this handsome young feller and it must have been love at first sight, or at first laugh! Not long after that they were married, and settled in to have a large family. Sad to say she didn’t go back to teaching after that, as many children could have benefitted from such a loving and kind teacher. However, her own children and nieces and nephews reaped the rewards from her caring words and kind deeds.
You could ask anyone who knows Aunt Lean, what stands out most about her and they would most likely answer her focussed attention and laughter. She is ever ready to hear a good story or joke, and she usually has one herself to share. It is the twinkle in her eye when you see that story or joke coming that stands out in my mind. She has the same wrinkles around her eyes and mouth that I have from all the grinning and laughing over the years.
A few years back when I spent a night at the Byrnes dwelling I remember the stories Aunt Lean told me about trips to their cabin. Most of these stories encompassed birthday celebrations and pranks and doodads that were abundant, times everyone attending was brought to such joy and laughter by something Aunt Lean or another neighbour did. I thought to myself “Isn’t this what life is all about-the times we spend with family and friends having a good time?”
Aunt Lean’s caring and love are timeless and endless. She is the same person today as she was when I was a child of four or five, visiting for the first time. She always makes people feel like they are welcomed, no matter when you show up or who is with you. When my three sons visited her years ago, she treated them with the greatest love and consideration, as if they were her own sons. Uncle Bill often sits with a twinkle in his eye, waiting for the stories and laughter that he knows are going to come, sooner rather than later! They complement each other nicely. How lucky I have been to have them in my life!