THE AUNTS by Linda Lee (Konichek) Mom had seven sisters. We cousins have always called them, "The Aunts." They were at each of our births, wonder women, who encircled us with a golden lasso of love that kept us safe. No matter what we needed, "The Aunts" were there; they came to coo and fuss over new babies, bring food and hugs to funerals, attended every milestone. "The Aunts" made each family event a noisy, happy party, shared jokes, gave lots and lots of advice and -- best of all -- brought special presents, wrapped in hugs. "The Aunts" grew up washing dishes and waiting tables in Grandma's restaurant; they were bound to help, took over the work, even in someone else's kitchen. "The Aunts'" potluck dishes could win awards at any county fair; they always brought extra, always helped serve, and left a spotless kitchen and recipes behind. As carpenter's daughters, "The Aunts" could pound a nail, paint a wall, build a shelf. Working right alongside the men, they rebuilt the lake cottage, then taught us to swim and bait a hook. "The Aunts" were always good sports, never too proud or too old to wear the craziest home-made Halloween costumes or to dance the fastest dance with little kids, or each other, at wedding receptions. There was no money for "The Aunts" to go to college, so they read great books, attended seminars, plays, symphonies, honed fine minds, always asked, "Why?", searched for truth, lived their creeds. "The Aunts" eagerly shared whatever we brought to them -- a wriggly face-licking puppy, a fistful of wildflowers, a neat rock with fossils, our best report card, new friends, fresh-picked berries, a fat toad. Now we've become parents, aunts, uncles. Some of "The Aunts" have passed on, but the golden lasso remains, has expanded to encircle all those we love. How can we ever live up to their heroic deeds? They would always expect us to try, so we will . . . try! ~ from Celebrating the Heart-land (Jericho Productions, 2010).