day twenty: aunt jean

Welcome!  If you’re wondering what all the 31 hubbub is about.  Read this.


31 days wide


aunt jean

I didn’t plan it this way, but I guess this is the weekend of the Aunts.  Yesterday I talked about Aunt Sharon who is my dad’s sister.  Today I’m happy to introduce you to my Aunt Jean who is my mom’s sister.  My dad’s side of the family is large.  My mom’s side of the family is just the opposite.  My aunt is mom’s only sibling and there are only three grandchildren–me, my brother and my cousin Jillian.  Jillian wasn’t born until 2001 and so growing up, my brother and I had all of the attention.  We were more than happy to share it with Jilly Bean when she came along.  🙂

Aunt Jean grew up in Pennsylvania and Indiana.  She moved to Indiana in the 6th grade and lived in Cambridge City, Danville and then Indianapolis.  She and Uncle Tom met through friends and were married in August of 1981 and lived in Danville, IN before moving to Illinois.  There they lived in Dundee, Elgin and now Glen Ellyn.

I have such fond memories of Aunt Jean from when I was growing up.  She was, and still is, so much fun.  When I was little, she would play baseball with us in the back yard and take us to the park.  When visiting my great grandma, Aunt Jean would always take me and my brother swimming.  When I was in college, she let me and three of my friends come spend the night before we went on to Chicago for the weekend.  She had movies and snacks and magazines all set up for us.  After college, Bekah, Ben (who was a toddler) and I went to her house and stayed for the weekend.  Once, she even watched Ben so that Billy and I could go to Chicago for the day.

me and aunt jean

Aunt Jean and Me—way back when.

Even now that I’m older, she still is always willing to have our family come to visit and she is the best hostess.  I love when our whole family gathers at her house.  I love to see my mom and aunt interact.  I never had a sister so it is so fun to see their relationship—even if sometimes, I feel like I have two moms.  I am 33 years old, but I guess never too old to hear their two cents.  I suppose if I combine the two, it is more like four cents.  🙂

I love Aunt Jean so much and, of course, when I asked to interview her, she said she wasn’t very interesting.  Shocking, I know.  But she is.  She is giving and kind and fun.  I love to hear her laugh.  She is compassionate.  She is a Great cook.  Her food is always yummy.  She loves to talk about books (she inspired me to start a book club).  She tells great stories and is very patient.  I may not have a lot of family on my mom’s side, but the family I do have is top-notch.

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We talked on the phone this weekend and here are some things that she had to say.

What is your middle name?  “Ann.  I’m named after my two aunts.  Donna’s middle name was Jean and then, of course, Aunt Ann.”  I had no idea.

Have you ever taken a personality test?  “Well I took the one that Bekah had posted—the short one.”  haha!  You did?  Do you remember?  “No but I’ll take it again.”  She did and emailed me.  She said she’s an ISFP.  And she’s a last born.

What did you want to be when you were little?  “a teacher”  I think you’re so patient with little kids.  You’re always playing games and doing puzzles with my kids.  How’s the teaching working with Jillian?  “It’s not.  I am very patient with everyone else’s children.”  Yes well.  I think we are all like that.

Tell me something interesting about the last movie you watched?  “Well we tend to rate movies with 4 being really great.  So recently we’ve seen Hunger Games, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty”  Ok so what rating do you give Hunger Games?  “3”  Zero Dark Thirty?  “2.5”  And Lincoln?  “4….even though I didn’t get all the way through it.  I did watch all of Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter….I like vampire movies.”  lol!  That’s hilarious!  So what do you rate it?  “well it has no redeeming qualities, but it is very entertaining.  So I give it a good 3.”

What were you doing 10 years ago?  “It was the first year of living in our house on Main Street.  Jillian was two so I was busy getting her into activities and home nesting.  That’s when you visited and it was really cold and you and Sam took Jillian to the park.”  Oh my goodness.  It was freezing.  I think I had on every one of your scarves, gloves and hats.

What has been your favorite vacation?  “Going to Hawaii”  When did you go there?  “Well I’ve been 2 or 3 times.  The first time was for our 20th anniversary and we went with another couple who also was celebrating their 20th.”  What do you love about Hawaii?  “the beaches, the water, the resorts are fabulous–deluxe, pretty and you feel pampered”  Did you do anything adventurous?  “I did go scuba diving, but not on that trip.  And we went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial.”

What vacation has exceeded your expectations?  “The last one we went on did.  I had a list of ideas, but we didn’t have everything planned.  We took a one week road trip up through Wisconsin and then into the Upper Peninsula.  We went to a Jelly Bean factory, to a nature preserve, saw waterfalls, went to Lake Superior (I think) and the shore was pebbly.  I didn’t expect that.  There were iron ore mines.  And we went to Mackinac Island.  It was a lot of fun.”  It sounds like a Really nice trip!

What is your current hobby?  “reading”  Yes, you have been in a book club for a while, right?  “yes.  10 years.”  That’s amazing.  It is rare for things to last that long.  “Yes, I even thought about quitting recently.  But I hosted in September and it renewed my passion.  I just like the women in it so much and I love hearing their viewpoints.”

So what are you reading right now?  The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman”  Oh, I suggested that book for my book club but we read The Book Thief that month instead (which was a great book in and of itself).  Are you reading anything else?  “The Bible.  I have a daily devotional where you read something different every day.”

Do you have a favorite song right now?  “no”  Do you have a song that you just really like?  “Well I’d have to copy Aunt Sharon and say Amazing Grace.  But I’ll tell you why.  I have a vivid memory of going to church with Grandma Goldie and she would sing it.  And it isn’t like we have great singing voices.  But hers was kind of high and wobbly.”  It sounds like a great memory.  I loved my Grandma Backer.

I asked Aunt Jean if she had a favorite version of the song and she said no.  Well these guys are no Grandma Goldie.  But I guess they’ll do.

Can you tell me something about yourself that people would find surprising?  “I don’t know.  I guess I’m kind of shy and I don’t really like crowds.  But if I’m comfortable around someone, I really open myself up.”  I think it is so interesting that the people who claim to be shy are some of the most personable people who I know.  Aunt Jean being one and Julie being the other.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  “that’s a hard question.  I’m afraid of heights but I can’t think of anything I’d want to do if I weren’t.”  no bungee jumping for you?  “I’m not that crazy adventuresome like that.”

Finish this sentence.  Before I die, I want to “…….oh!  This I would like to do.  I’d love to go to the Galapagos Islands.”  Why?  “Well you read about Darwin and hear about the turtles and it seems like such a healthy environment for animals.  I don’t know if it is true, but I’d like to see it.”  That sounds adventurous to me.  And after googling to see how to spell ‘Galapagos’ and seeing the pictures, now I want to go, too!

What has been your most life changing moment?  “Being a mom.”


Thank you Aunt Jean for the interesting chat!  Tomorrow will mark the 21st day.  Three weeks of blogging every single day.  What a lot of superb women!


3 thoughts on “day twenty: aunt jean

  1. I am partial to my first born niece. She stole my heart when she was little. Those big blue eyes and curly hair. She was clever then and more clever now! Rachel is a remarkable woman. She’s blessed to have so many loving, fun, strong, God loving,and intelligent women she can call friends.

  2. Jean is like my husband in that he along with his daughter loves toddlers and preschool age children. I watch all three as they interact with my grandchildren and smile at the “youngin’s” remarks and antics. Small children are so accepting of others and Jean, John, and Rachel are too! Shy, quiet people lovers – don’t let them fool you. Great friends!

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