Growing up I loved the holidays. I always look forward to seeing my cousin Patrick because I knew that we had a extra player whether it be a game of kickball or wiffleball in the cul de sac. My parents would always mention other names but being I never met them I couldn’t put a face to them. I only knew the side of the family that we saw regularly at the holiday times and stuff like that.
Anyway I don’t know the story exactly to why didn’t see them growing up. I was told to believe it had to do with my Grandpa and his sisters having a little bit of a falling out when his parents passed and knowing my Grandpa, he didn’t take any shit from anyone even his sisters. Meanwhile fast forward a bunch of years as that didn’t stop my mom from keeping in touch as they were at my parent’s wedding and my mom would always include them on the annual holiday card list.
Well some probably 10 years ago my mom decided to organize a family reunion and see if we couldn’t get everyone together at our house. My mom has always been good about that, and keeping in contact with everyone from both sides of the family. So when we met our 2nd cousins it was a little weird to be honest because growing up I didn’t really know of them, especially when we learned that they lived only a few towns over. Plus we were already in our 20’s. Anyway there were two of my dad’s cousins that were sisters the first being Aunt Susan, and then there was Aunt Jackie. I remember the first time I met her and wow did Aunt Jackie light up the room and she was the life of the party. I recall after that party labeling Jackie as “cool Aunt Jackie” in me head because she wasn’t like talking to one of the other adults. She had this spirit about her that you can’t help but love and a smile that just stretched from ear to ear.
So overtime we began to see them more and more to make up for lost time whether it be a be group outing for dinner, or a summer BBQ at our parents house . I guess the timing couldn’t be more perfect as Susan and Jackie’s kids were getting older just like the three of us were. One by one they were all growing up so fast and all their girls were getting engaged so it seemed like there was a wedding every year for a couple of years and little by little we got to be closer event by event.
Don’t get me wrong I love both Aunts Susan and Jackie but Aunt Jackie was always the spark of the party like i said earlier. As anyone that knows me, if we are at a wedding and you can’t find me it not because I am in the bathroom, or at the bar. It is very likely I am on the dance floor and so would was Aunt Jackie. In fact she would always find a way to be out on the dance floor even before me which is unheard of. I can just remember the one time she grabbed my hand and just started dancing away. That is just how “cool aunt jackie” was and just dance evening away. She made sure that everyone was having the time of their life, and if you weren’t her smile was enough to make sure.
Anyway I lost my Aunt Jackie when I was away in San Diego to brain cancer. In fact my parents were flying in as I was flying out because there were told they should get here when they can. Unfortunately My parents didn’t get to see her one last time before she passed but I know that she knows that they were there. It was the one regret that I had while I was out west was to miss out being around family and share in the story telling, and hearing all the wonderful stories about one of my awesome aunts.
I think the thing I realize that I will miss about Jackie, was she was a beacon of light. She really had the zest to live life, and always found a way to live with a smile every day even during her toughest days. She was telling jokes till the end I was told by my folks, and i don’t doubt that one bit. Aside from that she was also a great example of a soul mate love between her and Uncle Gene. You could tell just the way they interacted from the way they were always laughing or to how they completed each others stories they were just two love birds like the story books talk about. You really can just tell when you a couple walks the path of a higher love. I am really sad that my aunt Jackie is no longer with us here on earth but I know she is up above looking over me every step of the way. Just like I labeled her “cool Aunt Jackie”, she motivates me to make sure I am half as cool as her and that I too am labeled “cool Uncle Andrew” to my nieces and nephews as they grow up through the ranks.
I will miss you Jackie, but i know you will always be by my side in the times of need.
The Janosick Project
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