On February 7, 2007, my great niece Addison was born (one day after my birthday). M & A, who live in Maryland, got married in December. It was a destination ceremony, so extended family didn’t go. This past weekend, I had the distinction of meeting my great-niece (and her Daddy) for the first time, when they flew in from to east coast & came to my parents’ house in Bumblefuck.
I don’t get to see my niece that often. The last time was Thanksgiving of 2003, when the whole family converged for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. Having always lived southeast, even in optimum conditions, I would get to see her and her older brother (D) maybe once a year. Once my brother and their Mom divorced, the annual gatherings ceased, especially as they got older, and school activities, and working consumed their holidays and summers. I watched them grow up as a second and third hand distant observer.
As she grew up, M was very good at making contact with and keeping in touch with me. (With chagrin, I admit she was much more diligent & better than I at the return.)
I will admit, I was concerned with her having a baby so young. Seeing her this weekend, it’s obvious what a great mamma she is. (A is also a great Daddy.) Any small reservations I may have had were immediately eradicated. Part of my fear was that M would give up her plans of going to college, becoming a mom so young. But, she has started college. Aside from becoming a mom, I was astounded to see the incredible young woman she has become. She was a strikingly beautiful baby, and grew to be a strikingly beautiful woman. The genetic fates were kind, in that she took after her own mother’s side of the family when it came to looks. But it’s not just the outward aesthetics. She makes me feel comfortable with being me around the rest. She’s able to cut through the bullshit. Usually in the extended family gatherings. I am the big pink triangled elephant in the room that people don’t want to address. The familial version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Not with M. She’s right in there asking me questions—if I’m dating, what I’m doing for fun, what the gay bars are like in Chicago and how she wants to come and have me take her (and A) out to them. We compared notes on Project Runway. I was able to say, “Christian is such a queeny fag and laugh about it. She allows me to feel and be mainstreamed and ‘normal’ (although I loathe that word). For that, I love her (along with many other reasons.) At one point she commented about me being “Great Uncle Randy—‘It’s so weird to say that!’”
“It’s so weird to hear it!”, I responded.
For the past 6+ years, all that the others want to talk about is my health. It’s the ‘safe’ topic—of course unless I was feeling like shit, then it’s uncomfortable again (for them). I don’t think M once asked me about my health, which may sound strange, but that makes me happy. Note to readers: When someone has chronic health conditions/problems, that topic is usually the last thing in the world we want to talk about. Partly because, if we really do feel like shit, you really DON’T want to hear about it. If we are having a good day/week/month, we don’t want to be reminded of and have to think about when it was bad, or how long until the current good streak runs out.
Now to A (her husband). First impression: They were at my other brother’s house when I arrived. So, when they came, I hugged M. She then makes the introduction, “This is my husband, A.” I extend my hand to shake. He ignores the hand and gives me a big hug. No pretension. No macho appearances to make. Hugging the homo uncle upon first meeting—he just scored major points.
The next day clinched it. He and I ended up left in the living room with the TV on, with some football game playing, he looks over at me and says, “Do you want to watch this?” Another male in the family who isn’t sports obsessed. He went to culinary school, and I quizzed him on ways to use the black truffle oil I got for Christmas. He’s pretty quiet and reserved, just as I would be thrust into a whole new family. He was a great observer. He caught the nuances. When different barbs were exchanged, or snarky comments, a small grin would appear on his face, but no outburst of laughter at someone else’s expense. He just took it all in, I’m sure making mental notes to himself about this extended family he just married into. This man and I are going to get along great! He’s a very involved Daddy, and they seem to have a great partnership worked out. He’s definitely a keeper. Did I mention he’s really hot? He exhibits a self confidence that I never possessed. He’s very comfortable in his ‘own skin’. That’s very cool to observe.
I am so incredibly proud of her—of them. I don’t have kids. Never will. Yet as I make this statement, it is as though I somehow had a role in her being the incredible young woman and Mamma that she has become. I don’t. The credit is hers. It may still feel/sound weird. But, ‘Great Uncle Randy’—I can get used to it. It IS pretty great. This little girl is the best birthday gift this uncle has ever received. ©wtf/rle