Cheryl Telford and Alicia Assini

Recorded July 10, 2020 Archived July 10, 2020 36:32 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019893


Cheryl Telford (71) and her niece Alicia Assini (35) discuss their close relationship and bond.

Subject Log / Time Code

C.T. talks about how this is a bittersweet experience as A.A. is moving away, and due to Covid-19, they haven't been able to spend as much time together.
A.A. speaks on the close relations she shares with her aunt C.T.
C.T. describes how she may not have photographs, "but there are engrained memories that will never leave me."
C.T. asks A.A. about being a mother during these times of social distancing.
A.A. speaks on how she was raised by her grandparents and her aunts, but her children won't have that.


  • Cheryl Telford
  • Alicia Assini

Recording Location

Virtual Recording



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00:02 My name is Cheryl Telford. I'm 71 years old. Today is Friday, July 10th 2020 and we are in La Conner, Washington.

00:18 My partner is my dear niece Alicia assini and

00:27 She's she's a special niece in my only niece.

00:34 And I am Alicia assini. I'm 35 years old at today's date is Friday, July 10th 2020. I'm also in La Conner Washington. My partner's name is Cheryl Telford, and she is my aunt.

00:59 Alright, Cheryl. I'm going to let you take it away. He has this moment is particularly momentous for me bitter Swift tweet for me. It's being able to spend time with my niece. And as a result. It is one of those the happiest moments in my life that were able to be with each other this week after what has been a very long time.

01:32 Alicia move to the Northwest and she's soon going to be moving to California and during this time the covid virus has become active and disallowed me to routinely be visited. So this may be

01:56 The last time that I see her for a very long time.

02:12 To be able to submit and see Alicia your 11 month old twins once again before you leave for Monterey.

02:24 Is a particularly important to me because it's always been so special.

02:35 To experience

02:38 Major evolution of your life as a wife and mother.

02:43 Am I watching you? I can see you're going to be a wonderful mother. I am really grateful that your mother my sister Carolyn invited me to become part of your life.

03:00 Not having children myself. It's giving me this important role and responsibility to be your aunt kind of choking up here, but it's open to all my heart.

03:18 Alicia how do you say our relationship over these past 34 years. You want to start out off the tear jerker tearjerker?

03:38 I am continually so in all of you and so thankful for you in my life.

03:46 I can't imagine my childhood without it. And I'm so thankful. Even though my mom probably just wanted a break from kids and I'm so thankful. She was more than happy to ship me from New York to Washington so many Summers because those Summers you taught me how to be free and you are quirky and you drove a little, you know Volkswagen Beetle and it was a manual and I think you dyed my hair and never told my mom so you always sent me home with a surprise and we would go to know going on trips kind of confide really confiding in. You know me confiding in you my dreams my hopes and you always created a space where I could be free and actually one of the one of the questions I I really want as I wanted to ask you about our relationship is because I think you remember our first meeting. How did we meet right you would you remember it? Unfortunately, I don't that I was a little baby.

04:46 Did you have any idea if at any point when you saw you know, this little newborn or maybe talk to you know, toddler the relationship that did you kind of know that this was a relationship that you wanted to build or have a sense that this was a relationship at this this deep of 1 and has strongly connected of one that that you were going to create.

05:11 Yes.

05:13 Even if a newborn and you wrote girl.

05:18 And if I had children I would have thought the Chick-fil-A wanted a girl you fulfilled that immediately but then have the opportunity because I was living in Maryland at that time. I could be seeing you frequently and are flying up and I saw all these evolutions of gross and change and a

05:53 Intelligence is as you became a young woman and certainly My Hope was I was making a contribution to you that I was memorable and important in your luck.

06:10 You definitely definitely did though. I will say my first my first memory of you was as I don't even know what age in the bathtub looking up as you had formed little bat ears with my short in a bob haircut and just call me Ted at at at at at at a bad girl.

06:29 So, I don't know if I had that same sense of why yes, we're going to have a deep relationship. What she going to do to me. I guess I always had some weird obsession with my hair forming it into little bat ears changing its color. But yeah, so that's I think that's one of my first one of my very first memories and then and then flying out once you move to Washington, I don't think I understood the weight of you moving from Maryland to Washington cuz I still like middle of elementary school but going and doing our family trip and seeing you and I must have loved it out here because again, my mom was so easy to be like, yeah sure taking a few night it just fly or out there it's fine. But that was yeah. That was great and

07:21 Washington was always with such a fun place to go to get relief from the summer heat, you know, it was like I thought it was the coolest thing that in August I could go from, you know, Upstate New York and then and an end up with Summer. He you know, the meaning of sweatshirts needing to turn on the fireplace in the wood burning stove and Washington was like a different planet different world.

07:44 So well what I have been enjoyed felt special about our relationship is that's a

07:54 I told you that I was a combination of mother Aunt sister and friends and hopefully a x a mentor throughout your life. I filled her our relationship was.

08:14 Giving us a sort of Liberation in does that we shared?

08:20 Information outside of both our families you have educated me over the years and it's Vanden my world with knowledge. That's as you finish your PhD and computer a computational Linguistics. And also as we always stayed in close contact Facebook while you lived in Germany, Finland, Russia, Italy and Argentina.

08:54 It seems in retrospect really mind-boggling all the topics viewpoints experiences and feelings. We have shared over a lifetime.

09:09 And these are our conversations unlike shared with anyone else. You are a very good listener. That's how I feel. I haven't been experiencing so much. What is the dim light for you?

09:28 Well, I think I think I've usually distressed describe it to other people maybe when when explaining you how he kind of well, maybe our relationship status. I think on Facebook would be complicated. I've already determined because sometimes you have more of a you know maternal hat and I certainly have a mom but I hit like a thumbs up to Mom's been there. I've got that you but you have to Aunt hat and sometimes you have to know the other friend aunt and I think it's particularly when we've ever been having conversations about my grandparents and your parents. Sometimes I think you owe my mom and your other so you're two siblings seem to forget that. I'm not one of your siblings social my own mom is called me her Sister Act made my grandparents so

10:20 You know that is complicated and that yeah, there's definitely experiences or or personal things that I've been able to share with you. I mean even

10:33 Me want when I was at a point in my life and I v I was I was about to leave medical school and you know, obviously my parents weren't too happy about that I could call in and speak to you very openly about that. Usually before I could put to tell them or when I did leave and they were so upset and

10:51 An insect. No, baby said some things that I think now they might not be so happy with you know, you you opened your doors. You opened your home you opened your heart and said no come here at you being being in medical school leaving medical school. That doesn't that's not what defines you and I think that's always been a seam of really that you've always tried to instill and teach in no matter what hat you were wearing whether it's maternal. I mean, it's always been consistent of you know, he you figure out who you who you are and it doesn't matter if that's what if anyone else really agrees with it. And you know, it doesn't even matter if you agree with it, but you know, you have to live your life and you've you both set that example by I see by how you have lived your life. And then that's something that you think made very clear to me, whenever listening and giving advice. You know, that being that being said the fact that our relationship is so complicated that comes with a lot of bums to

11:50 It's not always been smooth sailing. You probably make me madder than anyone I have ever known in my life. I love you, but you can piss me off but that comes that comes I think with sometimes it's that we crossed lines of, you know, maybe I'm speaking to you at with with the intention of you as my friend and you come in kind of with maybe the month near the maternal kind of mother. Hen comes in inherently in that come in all those different roles. It's going to be messy. And so we definitely had on us those those types of kind of power struggles are just kind of clashes. It's not always clean and 80s and sometimes I guess someone to listen to oh, wow, you're so angry with your aunt is like this distances. It's okay. It's okay, you know that that often I feel being protective of you.

12:50 Song temptation to swisha dad helped solve and and and now in retrospect thinking that I had given you the credit at that time that you were up a grown up a very mature woman and added that.

13:14 I've overstepped but the nice thing it appears you've always forgiven me and that's never been any issue with with grudges. Just that I think with that close of a relationship and that many different components where we're bound to now, we're definitely bound to have those clashes and I guess what so some of my questions for you because I think there's so many different memories I have with you. What are some of your highlights? What are what are some of the best images are memories that you have?

14:03 I love the time that we have spend in vacationing in Vancouver, BC.

14:15 It's a another world and it were on vacation and I feel that we're both really relaxed and in a really good place whatever we've had those and we've had many of them fortunately visits but I would also say when you were in school in Italy having that chance to visit you and for you to to show me around to favorite haunts of yours, you know, that was a whole other level of connection and understanding of both years that you spend in Italy and the fact that you wanted to share it with me. It really meant a lot to me.

15:06 Yeah, I remember I remember our trip to Italy and I guess it's unfortunate circumstances. But because you've told me I remember you you arrive right before I was going to return to the US and Soviet it was right at Christmas time and we were you were in Milan. I know he took day trips to Venice and still had some of these magical moments and I went to Genova and the wandering through little narrow streets in finding restaurants are there was nothing in English and it wasn't even in standard Italian, but I remember one of them or magical days that was our trip to a better Gumball and this and I hadn't even thought of it. I mean other than and I don't even think I have the photos anymore cuz maybe they were on a digital camera. It was a long time ago. They might not it might have just been real actual paper that we printed but seeing Bechamel in the news with everything that happened with covid-19.

16:02 Was was definitely kind of brought back both of the the the great memories. We had there a really fun day outing a beautiful winter coat we found and it was very warm and needed and and then to see this a tragedy that such a tragedy that that struck that city. That was really suffering.

16:24 The both of us feel it that much more deeply because

16:30 Of the attachment of uniqueness, but you know you spoke about maybe not having pictures but

16:37 Really? What's important Smith should be nice to have photos but

16:45 Are ingrained memories and

16:49 Can cervix be shared experiences that

16:55 They'll never be forgot and

17:00 Are so meaningful to me.

17:04 I agree. I still wish that I had photos because I at least growing up.

17:12 I think you did a better job of this then then maybe honestly a little bit more than my mom is certainly better than my own dad of asking questions of their parents and learning about, you know, their parents and their grandparents stories and I love always love seeing the pick any picture I could of my grandparents or or my own parents are when you're and your family and your childhood and so I guess I just think maybe even more so now that I have my own children of wanting to share with them not only my own story, but I want to make sure that they know you are that they have anybody even have a sense that they kind of know who these people are and so it's the more photos. We have a shared experiences than that. I can I can reminisce and share these an these stories and they kind of than have these images as well to to look back on. I mean, I'm going to tell them I'm going to see any we tell our stories and then we retailer stories and then we re tell them again the same store still here still certain that you know you but

18:12 Yes, I still wish that there were more photos and it's all of I think that the change from the typical cameras to digital and then all of the moves and everything I have I just don't have a lot from certain periods of my life. You've made a challenge for me. I'll see what I can find and share it with you.

18:32 I'm sure if I have a question for you, and and that is with your children being 11 months old and needs to be.

18:46 Either sequestered or when out on occasions of being so cautious what and for the foreseeable future.

18:58 This isn't just six months. It's a year, maybe two years and you know, how do you wrap your mind around? That is a mother.

19:13 I tried to take it one day at a time, but it does it makes me sad on a lot of levels because I grew up. I feel like I grew up with me where my grandparents were weird another set of parents and and I and I even feel it. I guess it all depends on if I may be certain different cultures and different communities equipment across across the us but it seems like I had a lot of friends growing up who didn't necessarily have a very close relationship to their grandparents or some of their aunts and uncles and I can't imagine my childhood in my life without that support. I love my parents. They're great, but I definitely didn't make it to survive to adulthood with just them it was you know, my my grandma see me coming over every Friday to help us and an in Somers taking care of us, you know, a ton of times might you know, your parents my grandparents driving out from Iowa and staying with us for a month or two by Mom and Dad's sending me to my grandparents visiting my my uncle know you're at your brother my uncle Wally down in Philly.

20:13 All of those people who helped raise me and are so I just I can't imagine my life without that and the fact that

20:24 Due to this note said he needs they don't remember it but they're still not creating those bonds. They haven't seen my my own paint my parents since they were five four months old. They haven't seen my husband, you know. Our parents since you got the same about the same time frame and when are we going to see them again? We don't know cuz no one lives close by so just kind of creating that and you know, if I think of my my own living sibling and you know, Zach siblings that are are back in Ohio. My husband is his name Zach.

20:55 I don't think it makes me melt the most sad when I think about your in my relationship is I don't know.

21:02 I don't know if my children are going to have that growing up in a wine where it where in the military where you know, we're moving all over the place so we can certainly create communities wherever we are and that's what I've always done wherever I live appreciate people as you as you meet them as they come into your life and be so thankful when they're in your life and when it's time and you move on I will always hold all those people dearly that that helped me and and befriended me in all the places but that's still not the same as having those constants like no grandparents and aunts and uncles and and and an aunt who's like you so that makes me sad cuz if I don't know if it's necessarily just based on covet just in general with our life. I don't they're not going to have that.

21:48 That opportunity. I'd like to bring up cuz I know we have strong feelings about our my mother your grandmother Alice and the influence that she had on us if it seems particularly resonates and I think with both of us and that is on social and racial Justice and as a young woman, she put herself out there in marches campaigns demonstrations, and she was really an amazing role model and I believe and you can comment on how much she formed us in our are being sensitive. We're responsible. What are

22:48 Our contribution can be

22:52 And I mean, I I know that she was she was very Progressive.

22:57 I think for I think for me her role was so it was soap. She what she put that she had the pier Grandma roll for me though. She just loved me and snuggled me in and then gave me food, but she wasn't the best, but they gave me food all the same. And so I don't know if that that influences much directly from her or is much honestly even still you and and and my own mom talking about her and about some of those cuz I think by the Honestly by the time I came around she was in pure Grandma mode and and that maybe wasn't something that she said she felt she needed to share or even in part. You know, she already done her job she dress for kids now it's time to spoil the grandkids and let her own, you know, like around children figure it out with parenting.

23:47 What is kind of a concluding statement? You know you may have a comment on it is it is just been so special to have fun with you offer support and then I'm times to be able to because I'm not your mother. Goodbye until the next somebody else is responsible for other messy. Bring you a safety net and being a comforter that was never too far away if you needed me.

24:33 So you're the first part what you're saying is you answer the one week. I would visit you really enjoy taking me down to Sea-Tac and tell him I knew I'd get to see you again. And that was the beauty of it. I'd like I'd like right now and you know, what I see is what's between us is never is never going to change in many ways. And that is the frequent calls text last text of it keeping.

25:08 In touch with Eddie immediate Evolution and you know, I can hope and hold for more and more zoom or FaceTime and I just want to say I

25:21 I love you so much and Alicia. I love you so much. I mean I am really not I'm really pretty to press that the decision is only been about a year that I've been in Washington. We haven't been able to see each other more. I mean first I arrived at 33 weeks pregnant with twins wasn't exactly about to Fight 2 and 1/2 hours of Seattle Tacoma traffic to get to see you. I love you, but it wasn't going to happen and then you know, the twins arrived and and truthfully if you do if you haven't had twins, it's it's probably just don't quite get it that pure survival mode for cooking a recovery the first five months I don't even remember in so just you know, ya finally coming out of it and feeling like okay now, do you know the twins are doing better and I'm feeling better and we can we can we can maybe do some more trips and and visits, you know, if to see you and and to have covid-19.

26:21 Certainly not made it easy and then no and now knowing that we are we are going to be leaving in the in the upcoming months. But you know, I'm not so worried if I'm not so worried about it. We've always made it work. I mean, I remember when I was living in Russia and it was like 11 our time difference. I would talk to you. I think it was only skypac then but I would Skype with you with my morning coffee and my little like Russia, you know, pierogi and Ariana key or something and and so, you know every day vs. Everyday if I was with as I was adjusting to Russia or every other day, we've always found that I'm always found the space and that's one that mean it's it doesn't replace him person contact but I am so thankful. We have all the technology. We do. We have anything. We almost have too many options. I'm just proud of myself. I've never use zoom this far into the the pandemic, but I also don't talk to that many people but there's also so many platforms we can choose so

27:21 Can I give you got lots of options? We have them that when we're in California and wherever we get sent overseas. We just got to figure out the time zone.

27:33 And I don't know if that'll be fine.

27:36 Be there question Water by you as far as

27:43 Covid

27:45 Situation right now is I find that I reach out to family the most I have friends. I love them dearly but what is eccentric is a keeping palpable contact with family and

28:07 Is that been your experience to ice like you you need them more than ever right now?

28:15 I think it's been.

28:18 I don't know truth is I've actually reached out and had more friends Reach Out.

28:23 Then than anything else with this but that's since I've moved around so much. I don't live close to almost any really good friends and it's so I think a lot of friends from college or friends from when I was in Germany or other people other places. I think there's been more of a sense of coming back to community or find trying to find our different communities because now we don't have the one that's necessarily just closest to us are surrounded by us. And so yeah, that's what I've been in that regard. I've enjoyed being able to kind of reconnect and support people a group of college friends one's an ICU nurse right now in in Texas and and so it's just your throughout all of this kind of, you know, staying in touch with people and also recognizing this might be a moment when our friend of his last time but she also needs more support and so finding ways that we can check in with each other and my other friends than the same group is in Minneapolis when everything.

29:23 That was really happening there, you know trying to support her in ways and ways that she was in shampoo works for Minneapolis public schools in trying to support their the students in the communities that we're not old. On already been hit hard by covid-19 down but then with everything and all the protests and and everything that was happening and trying to to make sure that those those children were safe those children had maybe had food and something kind of notebooks and other types of supplies. So just I found that it's it's not just been been family, but I'm always in touch with you and yeah, that's a constant isn't it? You know if it's sad or not, but my life hasn't didn't really change a lot with with the quarantine because I already was working from home before I had the Twins and then I had been on a long maternity leave at home in a community where I know no one end and then everything hit and you know having person having family connections to Italy

30:23 Was heartbreaking when roasted before everything really was starting to pick up here and everyone is ignoring it and and kind of connecting with friends. They're connecting with family and and seeing what's happening and watching the Italian news. And then of course the first place that it said it happens is is is New York New York City and and having my my parents out that way and you do Physicians and Healthcare, and so it certainly wasn't that it was surreal, but my day-to-day didn't change a lot.

30:54 I think it's but it did for everyone else.

30:58 You are a very busy bomb. You know, I have a heart I want to say the luxury but of past librarian. I am driven to keep in touch and and research everything that's going on. Whether it's the evolution of the virus or new treatments hopefully new treatments and

31:30 But in and of course the socio-political situation right now and it also makes me thankful. No here. I am feeling sequestered safeplace chance to keep myself bed comfortable, but I am always.

31:58 Seeing the pain.

32:00 That is existing and Gathering of those that aren't as it's fortunate as us and that's I think it's my responsibility carry that concern and situationally where I can help.

32:28 From being in the same time being sequestered. So it's

32:35 It's a tough time as we both know.

32:39 We're not we're committed to you know, seeing our ourselves through is mentally healthy as we possibly can and which allows us.

32:52 To give another our families and our friends and One Nights by nobility to I think our time to research decrease because when everything happened in March and April, I was still on maternity leave and I was supposed to be coming back in mid-april. I didn't even I was worried that my job wouldn't even need me back that maybe things would be cut and and yet in the end of the it sector I ended up coming back to one of the biggest, you know, what kind of quarters the last 3 months of that they've had in in like the last decade or something and so kind of coming back and handle and also coming back and then not having

33:34 Not having any new any help with the twins coming back from maternity leave being stressed out of it. That's an adjustment in and of itself after exit 9 months off, but also feeling tremendous guilt because as much as hard as that wasn't as stressed as you are. I'm so thankful. I have a job that wanted me back. So I'm very thankful for that. But you're still handling all of the emotions trying to remember things feeling like you're brand-new because you've been gone for so long and also trying to do right by your at that point nine months, you know twins who don't understand and just walking around your room crying as you're trying to have a conference call Sabino balancing.

34:13 Balancing all of that so that you know that surge of of work in your workplace because of the very specialized computational Linguistics that you do did you feel a sense of of gratification that you were where you were most needed and in order to help different clients of true issues of important communication.

34:48 Honestly know it it actually made me think with my medical school classmates that I'm not that I was supposed to be a doctor, but it made me think that if I had if I had finished if I decided to stay and completed it, I know some of the Residence Inn in NY use some of my classmates there and kind of attendings there and

35:11 I would I would maybe be I don't know what this is it type of a position I would be but I guess I actually had this almost this feeling of guilt that I was supposed to be. I was supposed to be on the front lines and I have some, you know, just enough knowledge, but not it obviously not not not not a physician at all. So knowing some of the lingo knowing some of what they're up against and and very vent. I actually had that guilt of feeling like I was supposed to be there. I should be helping so I am very grateful that story has given us this opportunity to have this conversation in a mini things. We do in our got each other and feel, but it's something different and special to have his record it and have this unique to be able to share with one another. So thank you Alicia. I hear thank you. Thank you for for pushing encouraging me to find Space carbs.

36:11 To do this and yeah. Alright well, so goodbye until we meet again soon. Love you. Love you.