Monday, June 30, 2008

Goodbye, Uncle Bob

Last week, our great-uncle Bob died. It wasn't sudden or unexpected; Uncle Bob was 91 years old and celebrated his 71st wedding anniversary the day before he died. He also welcomed his 11th great-grandchild that week, and died in his sleep with his wife and youngest son by his side.

Uncle Bob was a typical, corny sort of uncle, always telling the same jokes (Did you stick your finger in this drink? Because it tastes so sweet!) and repeating the same old stories each time we saw him (When your mother was about your age...). We never discussed politics or current events; he never asked about my boyfriends or studies or work. We each had our part in the family: he, the affable patriarch; me, the zany youngster, and we rarely strayed from our roles.

Now, of course, I wish we had. I never asked him about his days as a shipbuilder during the war, or his photography hobby, or his uncanny knack for fixing anything that was broken. When I was a kid, I was more interested in getting airplane rides from him than hearing stories about his youth. As an adult, I was too busy chasing around my kids to sit with him for more than a few minutes. Just when Amy and I started planning our final trip down to Florida to visit him, it was too late; his mind and body alike were wasted away with cancer, emphysema, old age.

At Uncle Bob's funeral, I learned more about him than I had during my entire life. I never knew about the shipbuilding or the photography, though of course his family reputation as the fix-it man was legendary. But as each person rose to speak about Uncle Bob, I realized there was a lot that I did know about him. His kindness. His absolute devotion to his wife, my Aunt Rose. His complete satisfaction and happiness in his life, a life that gave him more than 30 years of retirement, and allowed him to die in his own home, surrounded by those who loved him.

I didn't cry when I found out Uncle Bob had died. Instead, I thought about lucky he was, about how jealous I was of his life and death. Uncle Bob wasn't a wealthy man, but his life was rich with friends, family, and happiness that few people ever get to experience. I will never spend 70 years with my one true love. I will never be completely satisfied with my life. I will certainly never have 11 great-grandchildren.

And I will never forget Uncle Bob.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Ronan

Nothing gives me more pleasure than when I see Aaron walk up to Gretchen and smack her in the face, or Gretchen walk up to Aaron and grab his cheek and pinch really hard. I'm not a sadist, but I am happy to see the twins go through exactly the same phase that Ronan was going through when I wrote about what a terror he is here, and here... and here. Why am I happy? Because it means A) I'm not a bad mother, and B) Ronan is not the devil child I thought he might be.

Of course, Ronan still has his moments. He's still 2, after all, and if the first 4 months of his terrible twos are any indication, the next 8 will be very long indeed. But he does seem to be learning. Sure, he stabbed his brother in the eye with a bubble wand the other day, but it turns out he was only trying to defend Aaron, from whom Declan was trying to snatch something (something very important, I'm sure). And yes, he did pull Hilary's hair this morning, but that was only because... well, okay, that was for no reason. You can't expect miracles overnight.

But Ronan is starting to talk a lot more, and he's just so darn cute about it. Last night he was helping Matty clear the table, and he kept picking up plates, bringing them to Matty, and saying, "Here you go, Daddy!" The other night Andy was engaged in his nightly ritual of giving the kids Noble Duke of York rides, and Ronan stood patiently at Andy's side, announcing after each ride, "Getchen's turn!" "Hilly's turn!" "Aa-on's turn!" until finally, "Ronan's turn!"

He's trying so hard, at everything. He wants to do everything "my-sef," from buckling his carseat to climbing in the bathtub to putting on his shoes to changing his own diaper (I don't actually let him do this last one). He so wants to be like his big brother and cousins. And every day he gets a little bit closer.

At his preschool/camp, the teachers call him "Spicy." At first I thought this was just a euphemism for "bad kid," but after spending some time there the other day for Ronan's camp open house I saw how much these teachers love him. I used to ask them about Ronan's behavior at school, and they would dismiss his hitting or pushing with a wave of the hand and say, "He's 2... All the kids in the class are like that."

I thought they were just saying that to make me feel better. But now that Gretchen and Aaron are turning 2 I see that those teachers were right.

It's going to be a long year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

20 Years Later

Two weekends ago, while Keri was crankily awaiting Molly's overdue arrival, I was at my 20th high school reunion (yes, Keri gave me permission to go, knowing that might necessitate my missing Molly's birth - and yes, I understand that, should I have missed the birth, Keri would have made me feel guilty about it the rest of my life, but I went anyway. I still ended up missing the birth the following Tuesday, incidentally, because the freakin' nurses kept me in the waiting room while Keri was "getting an epidural," when what they really meant was, "birthing the baby at that exact moment." But at least she can't be mad at me for that.)

The reunion was amazing. It's funny how potent those old relationships can be, how resilient. I saw friends I hadn't seen in ten years (since the last reunion), and when we all got together for dinner the night before the reunion, it took about five minutes before it felt like we were back in high school.

Back in high school with important jobs, spouses, and about 14 kids between us.

It's interesting . . . I think for the past year I've been feeling pretty depressed about getting old. Forty is fast approaching (two years away), and I've been spending a lot of time wondering if people pass the second halves of their lives watching the clock tick down and thinking about everything they thought they would have accomplished by now.

But the reunion didn't make me feel old. It made me feel energized. It made me want to track down everyone who had been once been important in my life and catch up. So I started by finding two old friends who had missed the reunion, and had great conversations with them - hopefully, we'll get together sometime this summer.

I could make some kind of crazy resolution to contact one of those old friends each day, but I know myself, and I know that any project requiring consistent follow-through is doomed to failure. Still, I hope to get through my list. Because what I've learned is that, for me, there are few things as revitalizing as feeling a lifetime of relationships tighten around me like a net rising out of the water.

Molly at Rest

Friday, June 13, 2008

Third Time's a Charm

For those of you considering a surprise pregnancy while on Depo-provera that you don't find out about until 17 weeks, I highly recommend it. Not only did I have a nice short pregnancy, but I gained less than 25 pounds, all of which came off in the first week post-partum.

But the real prize is Molly. Sure, I love her and all that, but what's really great is that all she does is sleep. And eat. And then sleep some more. As I write this, she's sleeping in a pack-n-play next to my desk. Soon, she'll whimper and I'll nurse her while I do research for an article online or catch up on my celebrity gossip. Then I'll put her back in said pack-n-play for another few hours of sleep.

I know what you're thinking. 1) You bitch. Stop gloating. 2) Just you wait.

And you're right, of course. I'm sure I'll look back on this post in 2 or 3 weeks at 3am in the middle of a 2-hour crying jag and bemoan the unfairness of it all. I'm sure Molly will get harder before she gets easier, as she finds the strength to stay awake for more than 10 minutes at a stretch and wonders what on earth to do with herself.

As for the "you bitch" part, I'm fine with that, too. I gained plenty of weight with Declan and Ronan during their insufferably long (40 weeks!) gestations, and frankly, was just on my way to losing the last few pregnancy pounds when I found out I was pregnant with Molly--2 years after Ronan was born.

So is my miracle recovery and easy baby my compensation for getting pregnant when I wasn't supposed to? Of course not. Molly herself is all the compensation I need. As I might have predicted, the very first time I looked at her sweet face, I fell in love.

And I'm sure once she opens her eyes long enough for me to look into them, I'll fall in love a little more.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Golly!

Miss Molly Isla made a very quick entrance into this world on June 3 at 9:24am after the world's fastest induction (less than 2 hours!). The speed demon clocked in at 10 pounds and 21 inches.

Welcome Home Molly!