My boys are really lucky. I’ve written before about how lucky they are that my father lives with us. Their lives are also richer because of their wonderful uncles and aunts.
Based on marital status, they’ve got 4 uncles (my three brothers and my wife’s brother) and one aunt (my brother Matt’s wife). But- if you use the criteria of people with substantial connections to those uncles you also add in my brother-in-law’s longtime girlfriend and the partners of my two other brothers. The expanded definition is more apt because I don’t think marital status defines family. All in, uncles and aunts, I count 8. And they are all wonderful people.
Geography prevents 6 of that group from seeing the boys regularly- although my children always have a wonderful time with their extended family from far away (Florida or California). But one uncle in particular- Uncle Chris, my partner in the commencement address yesterday for our high school’s graduation ceremony- makes regular trips from Cleveland to Syracuse to see his nephews. I know that he loves my wife and me. He loves our Dad living in Papatown. But he makes that 5 or 6 hour drive many times a year to see his three nephews.
Uncle Chris drove back to Cleveland late this afternoon (and probably got home just an hour or two ago). I’m sure that he’s exhausted from a quick turnaround driving in Friday afternoon and leaving today (Sunday). It’s my boys, though, that really wear him out. And he loves it.
It’s a total joy to watch him with my children. The age split of my sons- 13, 5, and 3- is broad enough so that he pretty much executes the gamut of activities while he’s here. If time and weather permit, he’s running 100 yards to catch the Aerobie thrown by my teenager. Or he’s coaching the Noodle (age 5) through the nuances of an iPad game. Finally, he might be getting his workout in as the Goon (3 years old and a miniature Taz) climbs him like a human jungle gym. It really doesn’t matter the activity- Uncle Chris is in, from the moment he wakes up here to the moment he collapses at night.
My brother Chris and I fought like, well, brothers, constantly growing up. At a year apart, we were far too close to each other in most things for either of our likings. We’ve since gotten over all of the ridiculous stuff that brings young brothers to blows- like, you moved my stuff- did not- did too… But watching him with my boys really reminds me how lucky I am to have my brothers. And how lucky my boys are to have all of the people that love them- but especially the uncle they call “Uncle”. Thanks bro- I love ya!