Sister & Brother

“It’s purple flower tea,” she gleefully gushed as we dined at our pretend picnic beside the plastic tea set on my family room rug.

“It’s so delicious,” I commented with my hands wrapped snugly around the “hot” cup. “Holding the cup keeps my hands really warm!” My 3-year-old niece Penelope & I enjoyed each other’s company during our special tea time.

Earlier in the day, Pen’s older brother Maxwell & I remained behind in his car while his Mom & 2 younger siblings went into a store. I tried my best to answer him as he peppered me with questions about the unique being he called Aunt Amy. Max is at that age where children start wondering about everything around them, & I was happy to answer all of his questions about me. Or at least try to give a good reply. 

The whole conversation began with him inquiring about my absence of hair. That led to me attempting to explain to the 5-year-old about cancer and describing what side effects, like the hair loss for example, are. Now’s a good time to place extra emphasis on the word attempting.

“I got cancer, which is a type of sick you don’t have to worry about,” I told him, choosing my words very carefully because I didn’t want to alarm the boy to think that each time illness struck him, his hair would fall out. 

“The drugs, I mean medicine,” I corrected myself, “I really needed to save my life, but they also did other stuff, like how I can’t grow hair anymore, walk without a cane, or smile.” 

His response that followed told me 2 things – 

1. The first point – albeit misconstrued by the youngster – I made about my life saved by medicine, obviously struck the boy by surprise in a huge way.


2. Confusion continued to rear its baffling head in front of my nephew as I learned I was not any good, but in fact pretty lousy, at describing myself to children. 

Swiveling his head to the right to face me, eyes as big as saucers, he asked in absolute astonishment:

“So you’re not gonna die?”



By Aunt Amy, 1.2.15


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