From "Aunt of Honor" to "A Lifeline"--Cynthia's nieces share special stories about a special woman
Cynthia’s Niece Allison Sends A Video Greeting From The West Coast!
Aunt Cindy, My Best Friend.
The way Jillian Washburn tells it, her Aunt Cindy was the only person who kept her sane during her teenage years “when my parents were driving me nuts! She never judged and there was a lot to judge.”
Even though Jillian and her older sister Allison live some 3-thousand miles away in Bend, Oregon, Jillian considers her aunt her best friend: “I can’t count the times I called her just to listen and laugh.”
“She has the greatest sense of humor and she’s really fun,” according to Allison. Allison and Jillian’s Dad is Cynthia’s brother. It’s been four years since they last saw their aunt.” During that time, Allison had her second daughter, two-year old Hadley; her older daughter Ayla just turned six. “My daughters are missing out on an amazing lady,” Allison said.
Jillian’s 14-year old son Evan knows just how amazing Aunt Cindy is. She took the two of them to Alaska in 2009 when Evan was six. “She took us salmon fishing, which was – and still is- Evan’s greatest passion!” The trip meant a great deal to Jillian, as well, since she was a single mom and could never have afforded it: “She paid for and invited us both when I was a lost young mom and I had no visions of being able to take him anywhere anytime soon.” She says her aunt was obsessed with the bald eagles during the trip: “She couldn’t keep her eyes or her camera off the bald eagles. Evan caught his first huge fish and she was off filming eagles! It’s one of our numerous inside jokes.”
It’s been rough on the sisters hearing about how much difficulty their fun-loving aunt has endured in the past few years. “I know Aunt Cindy has had a lot of ups and downs lately after she lost her job. She’s worked all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet. It’s been tough especially as a single lady,” says Allison. “I feel awful that the whole weight of the world was on her shoulders especially when my grandma was sick,” Jillian remembers, “She was there every single day and then took on the responsibility of the family home. I can’t imagine how hard that time was and how lost she felt.”
Going through all of the upheaval in the past ten years without her West Coast nieces nearby has been grueling for Cynthia. “They’re like my daughters. I don’t have children of my own but I have them. I call Allison my Gorgeous” and Jillian my Beautiful.” Her other niece Vicki–my Adorable–is a close friend’s daughter and lives in Connecticut. Cynthia is in constant contact with her. Vicki considers “Cioci” –aunt in Polish – a lifeline too, naming her a bridesmaid in her wedding two years ago. “Since as young as I can remember, Cioci has been playing under tables with me. I knew she’d be spunky enough to pull it off.” Vicki says it took a little bit of convincing on her part, but Cynthia finally signed on and was “the perfect bridesmaid.”
The West Coast nieces don’t have the regular interaction that Vicki has with their aunt, but they still feel incredibly close to her. Jillian considers Cynthia “the glue that always held my Dad and I together.” Allison tries to talk to her on the phone at least once a month. She says she’s noticed a big change in her aunt’s self-esteem and outlook recently, “There’s a spark in her voice that I haven’t heard in a long time.” Allison chalks it up to all the treatments she’s received as a Transitions winner, “She’s super excited about the transformation.” The sisters hope this is the beginning of Cynthia’s luck changing. They’re both thrilled she’s pursuing her own business venture with Bunnuku. “She sounds excited again! Kudos to her to find something she’s passionate about,” says Allison, “ I can hear her smile when we talk!”
Jillian longs to hear her aunt’s infectious laugh in person: “I remember her making up these silly rabbit stories for Evan and him just laughing…you couldn’t control the two of them. She was always game for a pillow fight! She truly is one of the funniest people I know.” Jillian’s wish is to see her aunt soon, “I continually offer her a room hoping she comes and stays forever – or even a week. I don’t care we just want to see her!”