Growing up in East Lansdowne, my sister and I were often cared for by our great aunt, a spinster who lived just around the corner with my grandparents. She was the one who was always our babysitter, who gave us baths, who took us on bus trips. Everyone, even her friends, called her “Auntie.” She was everyone’s aunt.
But on genealogical charts, I have no way of indicating her influence, and she eventually will become only an asterisk indicating other siblings of my grandmother. How sad. Only blood-lines are important in the long run.
My father grew up in Clifton Heights, across the street from the Shillingfords. The families were lifelong friends, and one set of children intermarried. Another one of the Shillingfords remained my father’s best friend even after they married and had their own families. Their son, Gary, was closer to me than any of my real cousins, and we even called each other’s parents “Aunt” and “Uncle.” Gary died last year, yet there is no place for him on my genealogical chart that seems to leave out more information than it shows, whose bare bones are not even the real bones of my heritage. I guess that is true for most of us.