I need to bring back some of my favorite people for this one. In this photo, they’re really little and still liked to hang out with crazy Aunt Jess. Now, they are in grade school with friends of their own, and Aunt Jess needs to schedule in her appointments on their social calendars between soccer games and gymnastics and birthday parties.
But why I’m bringing them back is because there is something between Aunt Jess and them that never dies. Even when crazy Aunt Jesseroni the Moose Fairy became simply Aunt Jess (or sometimes even, “hey”), there was one thing that endured.
And I’m not just talking about picture books or paperback novels. I’m talking about the ethereal, uncatchable quality that is the story. The characters that we learned to love together. Like Skippyjon Jones and the dinosaurs from the How Do Dinosaurs books by Jane Yolen. The stories never go away no matter how old you get.
So as school swings back into session and my nephew enters another grade that must not be mentioned because there is no way he can be this old now, a whole new set of stories come to the fore. We’re now discussing the Boxcar Children and Island of the Blue Dolphins. And I’m madly searching for my copies of Hatchet and Sing Down the Moon because for another moment in his fleetingly short life as a kid, my nephew will share stories with me again.
But as I think of that moment slipping away, I watch him voraciously read everything that is put in front of him, and I know this love for stories will never disappear. And one day when I’m just Jess, we’ll still have our stories, because stories last forever. And so I let him move from Skippyjon to Harry Potter, and the only thing I think is how jealous I am that he gets to read these stories for the first time.