Tag Archives: family

10 Things About My Nephew On His Second Birthday

Two going on old-enough-to-hotwire-your-car.

  1. As a newborn, the boy used to fall asleep to Mack The Knife, but he secretly preferred Billie Jean.
  2. His first hobby was laughing.
  3. He knew Pumped Up Kicks was a hit before anyone else did.
  4. He eats guacamole by the fistful.
  5. A big, sloppy kiss from Jack is the cutest thing that can happen to you in life. He grabs you by the ears and just goes for it. Sometimes he’ll even slip you the tongue. Continue reading
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An End, a Beginning

Why does the Western idea of the year end (and the next begin) in the dead of winter? I  mean, I know how cultural the thing is: Pope Gregory XIII decided on ours, in Islamic culture it’s in spring, Judaism places it in fall, and here again the Chinese have the edge on us, both in solid terms of years lived and really good origin stories. And of course North Korea passes recorded time in a very Kimilsungian way.

If we measured the year in terms of our own entry into life (birthday to birthday), that would be so American. Many already do this, if unofficially.

2011, the year I lost my Dad, got me thinking about the whole journey of life: not just how it begins but how it ends. Continue reading

Arrival

People had waited for this one. The baby would be a boy in a family of two adults and one perfect little girl, who was so excited about her brother’s arrival she’d named him “Abby’s Boy”. She also was taking on a new role in the games she played: Big Sister. If you were lucky enough, she’d gift you with this role, and be Mommy herself. “Big Sisser, it time for bed,” the little Mommy would say, and off you’d go, to five seconds of sleep on the carpet.

As for the baby, he was enjoying his time with the real Mommy. My sister had to induce: and here’s an odd thing about life, that someone else can choose your birthday for you. Obviously, someone can also choose your date of departure, but that’s much less legal, not to mention little cause for celebration.

Very early on the morning of the summer solstice, I joined my sister, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law on the trip to the hospital. On the sunlit trip through the sleeping town of Matthews, we passed under a sign strung across the street: the community theater production of “The King And I” was about to open.

It was the best morning of the year. We were all so excited. I remember looking at that sign, thinking: Shall we dance?

Honestly, I could have. Continue reading

Departure

People had feared this one. My parents have six children, twelve grandchildren, and nieces and nephews, and all of us knew the end was coming for my Dad. On the last day of the first month of the year, he’d had a massive heart attack, which he survived. But that event had finally given us all the map to what was going on inside him: a series of small strokes (doctors traced the first to about 2009; I’d put that one at least a year before), progressive dementia, and now the thing with his heart.

Dad struggled to understand it himself. Months later, we would find handwritten notes he’d made. “Hart attack,” says one, dated February 17. “Thank them for the gifts,” it adds. “Flowers and fruit.”

As his children recognized the enormity of what had happened (was happening) with Dad, we planned the annual family gathering with more attention than usual. It was understood that no one would make the mistake of sitting this one out. No one, that is, except Dad.

He just never spoke about it. August. San Diego. My mother would talk to him about these things, but he never really responded. To Dad, it was as if they did not exist.

Of course he was right. That event simply wouldn’t happen for Dad. We didn’t want to hear anyone say this, but it was true. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Neil Postman

Neil Postman — writer, cultural critic, thoughtful guy — would have been 80 years old today. In his memory, and because memory is important, I am asking you to read his son’s appeal on DayRiffer.

Neil Postman wrote that line. Accept no substitutes.

Most of what I have written in my life now belongs to corporations (the bastards!), or to all of you; I have always been either a paid consultant or a blogger. So this is in no way a selfish appeal.

Neil Postman, unlike me, had important things to say about childhood; about humanity itself. If we lose sight of these things, we risk forgetting what it is about us that is special: what is most worth remembering, if you will.

Happy birthday, Mr. Postman. And belated thanks.

Why The Heart?

Jane Seymour's "Open Hearts" line.

I am really not a fan of the heart.

Here is the problem with the human heart, and its use as a symbol around this time every year: it has everything to do with life, but almost nothing to do with love. The organ in charge of love is the same one that manages the children, the mortgage, and the checkbook: the brain.

Human beings are a species of the highest order. Love, as we play it out among our lovers, friends, and families, is a very complex and delicate thing. So why do we consign it to that poor southern organ? The dumb one, the one that beats and beats, and clogs, and finally breaks?

We don’t even draw it correctly. Look at this:

Where’s the ascending aorta in that? Continue reading

Four Years in Five Minutes

My niece turned four yesterday.  This is the slideshow I made of those four years.

It was not easy to compress all four years of this little girl’s light and laughter into five minutes … but interestingly enough, the slideshow lasts about as long as it feels it has taken her to get this big.

Love to all, and happy January.