Aunt Tracy

My dear Jennie,

Happy Birthday, my beautiful niece! I wish you a wonderful celebration with your family, knowing that this occasion provides a special opportunity for all who love you to reflect on the light and joy you bring to the world.

You and Kim (and Scott as well, although it was a few years later) allowed me to have a pretty remarkable title at a young age. When you become an Aunt at the age of 9 – and again at 11 – it’s a badge of uniqueness that sets you apart from most kids. And who doesn’t want to be an original at that age. Not to mention it was so fun! I could practice my babysitting strategies, and I always had an adoring audience of little girls who thought I was pretty cool. I will always remember bringing you and Kim to Gamma Phi Beta at UNL when I was in college, where we had quite a conversation about when you might be old enough to wear a bra! My roommate Colleen adored our lively discussion, and she will still bring up your visit today when we reminisce. Of course, even before this event was the ill-fated Ghost movie (a poor judgment call to be sure) and the Adventures of Natty Gann, where you and I cried throughout the entire movie. Not a surprise, to be sure.

As I reflect on the thoughtful and sweet kid that you were, it leads seamlessly into the strong, competent, kind, visionary woman you are today. What a blessing you are in my life and in the lives of so many. Your thoughtfulness shines through in everything you do, and I am moved by how you live your values of kindness and compassion every day. You inspire me, Jennie, with your view of the world, and your work to make it a better place.

And now that child who looked up to me is now a compelling role model for my kids – and her own. Here’s to your 40s, my dear, and a decade full of new beginnings, new and old friendships, and most of all, love.

Happy Birthday, sweet Jennie! I can’t wait until we can hug and spend time together once again.

All my love,