Well, I was off Facebook all of three days. Those were helpful days, indeed, as I got to accomplish more and learn more both for and about myself. I felt I had to return because I sensed I might be hearing from someone on the guest list for my father’s 85th Surprise Birthday Celebration, and I might miss that. My instincts were correct. I’m so glad I got on, because last minute, one family had to cancel unexpectedly, and had I remained off Facebook, I would have missed their message entirely.
In addition, two days ago we had a baby born into my father’s side of the family…my cousin’s daughter’s first child. I would have missed all the Facebook hoopla, even though my cousin texted me a photo and gave me the good news right away. As it turns out, I am hosting my father’s birthday party at the new daddy’s family’s restaurant. It’s a casual place with excellent food that will be the perfect venue for the kind of family party I’m throwing. The new daddy, married to my second cousin (my cousin’s daughter), is the sweetest guy you can imagine. I just know he is going to be an awesome father. When I attended their wedding in summer 2012, he looked to me to be the happiest groom I have ever seen. He just has one of those faces that exudes joy. After meeting his parents, I can see that he comes from very happy people. My cousin’s daughter is lucky to have found such a generous and genuine man. He wore a pink shirt to the baby shower, because they knew they were having a girl. He helped open the gifts, just as excited as the new mom-to-be over every swaddle blanket and set of baby clothes.
They named the baby Daniela Grace, and I’m eager to hear whom she is named after–I believe there is a deceased friend or family member that was named Danny (or Dan). I vaguely remember this being mentioned during a speech at their wedding. Of course, the new parents won’t be coming home from the hospital until this Sunday, the day of my father’s party, but I will ask my cousin, the new grandmother, whom I believe will still be in attendance.
Seeing a newborn makes a person nostalgic.
My cousin’s daughter reminds me so much of my cousin’s mother, my Aunt Margie, who was married to my father’s older brother, who was a Chicago police officer. My cousin always reminds me of her parents, my aunt and uncle, both now deceased. Aunt Margie was the sweetest, most unassuming, quietest but happiest person I can think of. She was a tremendous cook and a caring mother, but she was shattered by menopause. I remember being too young to really understand when she said to my mother with tears in her eyes, “It’s terrible.” I’m sure being the jovial woman she was, the hormone shifts were dreadful. She and my mother were good friends. They used to laugh and talk throughout the duration of their frequent visits; when one or more other aunts joined them, they played cards and talked. Back then, family and friends visited one another casually and more often than it seems they do today, when gatherings tend to be more formal, like the party I’m having for my father.
My uncle looked a lot like my father, perhaps a tad handsomer, and like his wife, had a smile and a sparkle in his eye that was sort of his signature, at least from my point of view. One time, however, when I was about ten years old and had just returned from a friend’s house, my uncle announced to me, “I picked up all the junk in your room.” He had never been cross in any way, so I wasn’t sure how to take his words. At 10, I had already become a bit of a pack rat, and it seemed my dresser top was full of every knick-knack, gift, hairbrush, school paper and pencil holder I had ever received. It was so full, that stuff used to fall behind the dresser, between the dresser and the wall. Of course, I haven’t seen too many rooms of ten year olds that are exactly tidy.
For whatever reason, my uncle had pulled out the dresser, which was too heavy for me to move, and gathered everything that had fallen behind it. I was embarrassed to see that the clutter filled a whole box. He never did anything like that before or after, but I never got over the embarrassment of it, either. I suppose he was actually trying to help, perhaps prompted by some conversation the adults had, and in the end he was nice about it–but I felt ashamed nonetheless. In the grand scheme of what uncles can do, I perceive this as minor. I know he didn’t mean any harm. And maybe it taught me something, as now I am a bit of a neat-nik myself.
I can’t really think of anything too much odder about my childhood, except for one time about two years later when a friend was staying the night. I woke up around 2 or 3:00 in the morning to find her taking two shirts from that same dresser’s drawer and putting them into her suitcase. I was so sleepy, I thought I must have been dreaming. But sure enough the next day, I noticed the shirts missing. They were new and stylish, so she must have taken them because she liked them. I was shocked that anyone could do such a thing, but she was a lot more brazen than I. Shortly after, her family moved away and she still called me on the phone. I don’t think I ever mentioned to her that I knew she took my shirts, which I can still see today in my mind’s eye, a particular kind of knit that was comfortable and colorful.
It’s surprising what memories the birth of a new baby can conjure. I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience–either of a baby reminding you of people no longer alive, or of unusual memories sprung from thinking of people and a time long ago.
Here’s the new baby, 7 lbs., 12 ozs.
This is Day 17 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue
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