Tia Berry! That’s me.
I’ve always wanted to be an aunt. I love it. When we were little kids, I always was the aunt when we played house. Either that or the Saint Bernard.
And look at little Chazzie! Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be part of this little peanut’s life?
“Will you have him call you by your name or ‘Mom’?” I asked Mae. We called our mom and dad “Mom” and “Dad” but we called our grandparents “Frank” and “Sylvia” and the others were “Nonny” and “Papa.” Frank and Sylvia were socialist artists and Nonny and Papa were Presbyterians.
“Either or both will be fine!” replied Mae.
“But one or the other, right?”
“Either or both!” She laughed. “Do you know what ‘mother’ is in Portuguese?”
I shook my head.
“How do you pronounce it?”
“It sounds like ‘mee-ow!'”
I never wanted to be a mom. I guess I wanted my creativity to come out in other ways. But I love to have a child in my life. I love that our family will continue, and that I get to be here, contributing to that. I’ve read that, in terms of sociobiology, some of the females of some species, like lions and even elephants, are driven to do everything for the off-spring of their sisters, for that’s still promoting the family genes. I guess I’m like a sister lion.
Our sleep patterns have gone all cock-eyed having a baby in the house. We’re up all hours and whenever the baby sleeps, that’s when we try to catch a nap, too.
I love it, for it gives a dreamy, unreal quality to the day and the night. I see everything through rose-petal water and move through lime jello.
When I was heading inside after my nap in the garden the other afternoon, I saw through the kitchen window a man sitting in our kitchen.
It was Paolo. I could tell. Though I hadn’t yet met him, I recognized him from his grin and his nose. That Chazzie’s nose in grown-up form! I guess I’m also contributing my efforts to the continuation of Paolo’s genes. That’s OK. They’re cute genes.
Mae looked so happy to have Paolo there. They seemed really domestic together.
And Mae glowed. Goodness! I think she is in love.
I’ve only seen her in love twice before, with Rudy in high school and Byron in college, and both times, she sparkled. Just like this.
Yeah. It looks like love.
Paolo seemed a little dazed by it all. I guess it must be a big thing to suddenly be a father and to meet his baby for the first time. Or maybe he always looks like this.
“So, what do you think of little Charles?” I asked. “Quite a kid, huh?”
“Oh!” replied Paolo, surprised. “I have yet to put the eyes on the bebê.”
“Come on,” said Mae, “we’ll introduce you.”
We walked into the bedroom, where Chazzie was just waking from a nap.
“So?” asked Mae. “What do you think?”
“I am on the floor,” laughed Paolo. “With the amazement.”
I left them to talk. I remember when I was a baby, lying in a crib, and soft voices swirled around me, tenor and alto, and a warm feeling spread from my tummy through my toes. I remember giggling, just like Chazzie was giggling when I left the room and headed into the kitchen to make lunch.
Later that night, Mae and I both got up for a midnight snack.
“Does it feel real yet?” Mae asked.
It does, strangely. It feels like it was always meant to be.
“The funny thing for me,” Mae said, “is that I can’t remember anything before. It’s as if my life started that very moment that I had Charles.”
I’ve heard other women say that. My mom used to say that. “I don’t remember a thing before you girls!” She would say. “It’s as if pre-child and post-child are two completely distinct lives.”
I was always a little shocked, that she would lose connection to her childhood. “This is how it should be,” she told me. “Look what I gained! Two beautiful children! What do I need now with my own childhood?”
I realized that, for me, the birth of Chazzie has reconnected me with all these memories I never even knew I had. Somehow, with him in our lives now, I feel that I am connected to our whole long line of family, before and beyond. I am part of this link.
I keep painting the same painting: a cabin in the woods on the shore of the Puget Sound.
It’s nowhere I’ve been. Maybe it’s from the story my dad used to tell about the little cabin where his sister was born, the sister who died when she was six months old, my aunt whom I never met.
And now I am an aunt. I don’t know what it is about this cabin, but it speaks to me about what our lives are now.