Saturday, April 10, 2004

Today is my nephew's 22nd birthday

I remember when M called Mom and I and told us she was pregnant. She said, "I'm gonna have a pup!" I remember it took me a few seconds to register exactly what that meant. M had just gotten married to H and apparently my nephew was a "Honeymoon Baby."

M went through her pregnancy and damn if those Pregnancy vitamins didn't give her hair and nails to die for! I am one of the few people that have a picture of M when she was pregnant. She planned it that way. I don't know why because she was stunningly beautiful when she was pregnant.

Mom was not keen on being called "Gramma" or "Nanny" or anything like that, so she made up what E would call her before he was even born. She decided that she liked "Grams" and even though my nephew would not talk for a couple of years, that's what we called her.

Mom (or Grams) and I got the call that Marti had the baby. We were later told of the harrowing drive to Witchita Falls in the middle of the night. M was in the back seat digging her long nails into the upholstery and cussin' like a sailor.

I couldn't wait to go see him after he was born. I had a nephew! I was an Aunt! How cool was that? I remember looking down at this little human being - he was so new that the last of the umbilical cord had not fallen off yet - and just being amazed. Here was a little piece of all of us wrapped very neatly in this one little boy. I remember thinking that when I was 30, he would be 15. That was just too weird for me to fathom at that moment.

I remember so many little snapshots of his growing up: Him with his sisters, he and his Mom coming to my football games when I was drum major in high school, holidays and being so excited to buy him toys, he and I doing things together in my VW Beatle, trying not to scare him when we were driving during a tornado warning, his sweet smile, his need to communicate lots of information in a short amount of time and he would suddenly stop and say, "Am I talking too much?" He was a precious little boy and I didn't think I could love him any more than I did.

Unfortunately, our Mom and his "Grams" was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metasized to the brain. Mom lived about 30 miles outside of Shreveport where M and E lived. M was running a family and a Office Depot store as a manager, and I was single with no pressing commitments, so I quit my job in Dallas and moved in with our Mom.

Our Mom was a very different person. She didn't like babies. If she could have had it her way, M and I would have been born as young adults. Don't get me wrong - she loved us, but she liked us a lot better when we were older. This was still the same when E came along.

E was a young teenager when Mom was sick. However you would have thought he was in his late teen or early 20's. He was such a good kid. When other kids were rebelling against any kind of authority, he was sitting with his Grams, watching Star Trek movies and visiting her at the hospital.

Yes, Mom was agonizing over leaving M & I, but she had done all she could for us because we were both grown. The hardest thing for her to think about was not being able to be there for E. Our Mother was a writer and before the Cancer rendered her unable to do that anymore, the last thing she wrote was about going school clothes shopping with E and his Mom and how incredibly precious that was to her.

When we realized that Mom was living her last day, my sister, my aunt, E and myself had the honor to be there. We got really lucky in that Mom was put in a double occupancy room and no one was put in there with her, so we basically had a slumber party the last night of her life. We talked and told stories and laughed. We looked over at Mom and swore we saw her smiling when she heard us laughing. The following morning we were all there when she took her final breath. It was exactly as she would have wanted it: all of us there with her.

After our Mom died, I moved to Atlanta. E came to visit me here a couple of times and those are some of the best memories I have of him. We did all the touristy things and by the time he left, he decided that he wanted to go to school there. Too bad he changed his mind about that. I would have loved to have him here.

A couple of Christmases ago, E and I flew into see M when she lived in Ft. Myers. We went to Disney World for a day. We drove down to Key West. We laughed until we thought we'd pee. Oh, and did I mention that Grams was with us? She and her urn were in the backseat buckled in next to me. That was such an incredible time! It was just the 3 (or 4) of us and we had such a good time.

E is now living in Dallas and doing his own thing. He hasn't talked to me since last Christmas, and I hope that changes soon. I love my nephew more than I can express. He is one of the 2 most important people to me in the world.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I love and miss you very much!


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