There is nothing as reliable as my Aunt Pat. Nothing.

She has known me, obviously, for my entire life. Both she and her sister Nancy have, more than once, written or stated, “I remember the night you were born…” It was during a really bad snow storm about two weeks before Christmas, so I think it was as much the weather as the birth of the first of my generation on both sides of my family.

I have become conditioned over 65 years to expect a card from Pat whenever I have a momentous occasion. I still have the holy card she sent me for my First Holy Communion in 1958. She signed and dated the back.

A few weeks ago, I did not get a birthday card from Aunt Pat. I didn’t know how to handle this. I was worried.

The lack of birthday card may not be noticed by many. I’ll bet those people were not born in December. People born in December are often short changed in the birthday department, so any observance of our entrance into the world is greatly appreciated and remembered.

Pat is an octogenarian – maybe she decided enough. Maybe she was sick. Was she getting forgetful? Pinching pennies and given up on what might be considered an extravagance – after all I was the first of 25 cousins who have given to another generation who has started the next generation. How long could she keep cards coming for so many.

Adding to my concern was the fact that she also had not commented about the past blog or two that I had sent her. I could always count on an e-mail comment once she’d read my latest.

Pat, a nun, has a very close friend, Noreen. Pre-Vatican Two, the nuns always traveled in pairs. Noreen was the one who usually traveled with Pat, to the point we consider Noreen part of our family. (I’d be willing to bet that Pat has a second family in Noreen’s.)

Noreen did respond to one of my blogs so I took the opportunity to respond to her response: “Is Pat okay?”

Within a few minutes her succinct response, “Of course.”

No questioning why I would ask. Hmmm. Should wouldn’t tell me a story. I should relax, but I was still curious.

All my concerns were calmed on Christmas Eve. I opened the mail finding a Christmas card from Aunt Pat and inside the Christmas card was a piece of mail stamped, addressed to me but with a notification at the bottom, “Return to Sender – undeliverable as addressed.”

I examined it. The address had the correct number and street but was missing the direction. There is a duplicate for our address on the west side of town. In the 20 years we have lived here, we have often gotten mail addressed for West or with no direction at all.

In fact, the week before, we had gotten mail that said WEST but used our 9-digit zip code. The opposite side of town would have a completely different 9-digit zip.

Pat’s address had the entire 9-digit zip.

I was flabbergasted. In a town of under 12,000 people, where I lived in the same house for 20 years, the post office couldn’t make two attempts to attempt delivery? If they followed the 9-digit zip code they would have gotten it correct the first time.

I ended up calling Pat on the phone to let her know how I had been worried about her, but that having received the mail that day, I now knew all was right with the world again.

(I also told her I was going to use this situation as blog fodder.)

Since I talked, to Pat, I visited with cousins and before relating this story asked, “Each year, who do you KNOW you’re going to get a birthday card from?”

No one had to think for very long – “Aunt Pat.”

So, now, Pat, the pressure is really on. We are all expecting your cards.