Sometimes there are things in life that feel like fate, and I like to think my niece’s bold 10-day-late entry into the world in the middle of the pandemic was so.
My sister was having spaced contractions for a while at home and was waiting for the hospital to open up, since it was full. (I didn’t know this was possible.) So we were video chatting while she ate donuts and wondered why she was still pregnant, and I packed up our apartment for a pending move. In sorting through all my crap, I had found this letter my dad wrote to his parents in 1967 when he was stationed in North Carolina in the air force, during the Vietnam War. It radiates with the spirit of him, almost 20 years before I was born. My sister actually copied the letter for me to have, and I had rediscovered it. Both of us, I think, forgot what it said. (Like me, my dad was very prolific in his writing, and there is also a digital archive of his wisdoms from his facebook years.)
I read this particular letter to my sister Wednesday night, and very soon after I hung up, her contractions started becoming more intense. Two hours after she entered the hospital, peanut was born. Popped right out.
The letter my dad wrote to my grandparents is long and full of his quirky rants. I think it’s likely he was very stoned. It starts with an argument about why his parents should listen to the Beatles. But the part that got me (and likely got my sister):
“I guess I’m feeling misty and sentimental tonight, but I’d really like to say that I really dig and appreciate both of you. […] Because in our family, one good thing is that everyone is actually part of the other. And that’s so good and one doesn’t realize until he is away. Everything is so cool and complicated and sad and comical and thoughtful in our home and I hope we all realize that even if we’re poor or whatever, that there could be no realer or truer of better home in the world.”
He signs off “I’m gonna grow a mustache. Anyway love, Dave” and then, “P.S. I think women are a lot stronger than men”.
My first niece made me realize how much of who you are must be genetic. At two and a half, she has all my dad’s mannerisms, all his same interests and likes. The movie Aladdin, Chinese food, flashlights, calling people “screwballs”, the beach, eating endless amounts of chocolate cake. She loves to be eccentric, which is also something they share.
And we are all quite enthusiastic as a family, when we want to be. I believe I am objectively more so than most people; I like to yell and flail my arms and am often told to quiet down when I get too excited (which is often). When I get to see friends or when a baby is born, or when I get to see a kitten cross the road. For new life in the form of a tiny baby. Peanut. These things bring me so much joy. And I think the world needs more enthusiasm, The Netherlands especially. Some more pizazz. A bit more flare. My older niece learned the phrase, “Thaaat’s exciting!” a few months back, in her tiny two year old voice, and I went around saying it in the same tone for weeks. But my sister and I do say that often. I don’t think I got that from my niece, I think she probably got it from us.
I wonder what Peanut will think of this world. If she will find it exciting. I think it is. The news is certainly not dull lately. My dad would say, “your problems are unique.” and we, as a world, really have a lot of unique problems these days.
But, stay excited, friends. Grow a mustache.