Stepping Up My Half-Aunt

By , August 28, 2013

With increased family visits this summer and autumn have come opportunities to receive feedback on my various projects, including my writing. My brother Dave and his wife, Anke recently wrapped up a month-long visit in Haines. During that time, Dave read my latest book, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm. He had some interesting comments, but none warranted any changes to the text, in my opinion. When my aunt and uncle visited last week, however, it was a different matter!

This aunt appears in both of my books. I included her preferred method of reading my horror stories in the introduction to Shy Ghosts Dancing: Dark Tales from Southeast Alaska. I have alluded to her several times on the blog, most conspicuously in an essay, Space and Time Enough for Family, that also appeared in Sacred Coffee.

We talked a little about the book when they visited the “homestead.” In the course of that, she mentioned that I had referred to her as my step-aunt, when in fact, she’s my half-aunt. She and my mother share the same father, but have different mothers.

She quickly assured me that she didn’t see it as a problem. Her main concern was making sure that I knew that we were connected by blood rather than by marriage, as the term “step” implies.

I did see it as a problem! Not only do I want to make sure our relationship is listed correctly in the book, I’m embarrassed that I’d inadvertently used the wrong term.

So, I’ve set about correcting it. Future editions of the print book will now read as the online version of the essay does; I’ll also change the ebook versions as soon as possible.

I had to think about what exactly to change. I couldn’t call her my “half aunt.” Half brother, half sister—those flow off the tongue. “Half aunt” sounds a bit odd. So, I inserted a phrase that says she’s my mother’s half sister. That reads better, I think.

No sense in taking half measures, after all.

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