I was working at a certain family amusement park, passing out laser guns and explaining why it's not appropriate to hit people in the darkness of the game room, when from the corner of my eye I noticed my brother--in blue hospital scrubs carrying something blue in his hand-- and my mother--bearing fried food--approaching.
I knew this surprise family visit, capped by my brother's beaming (and I do mean *beaming*) face could only mean one thing:
I had a nephew.
My sister-in-law had called the night before to say her water broke and that she was going to the hospital, but that bouncing baby boy didn't make an appearance until after one in the afternoon the following day.
And since then he's provided countless smiles, laughs, hugs, and kisses as well as the all-important concept of "hugging you down," a bear hug/tackle best carried out on the floor and with a running start.
Some of my fondest memories involve my nephew, my now-deceased grandfather, who was sure that he was the only one that could get the little guy to sleep (he was right for a while there) and Kit-Kats, which Pap insisted were not candy because of the wafers involved (that made them cookies, and OK to give him darn it!).
I can't believe eleven years have passed since that wonderful day when you taught me that I really was a "baby person" after all. Amazing what a cooing smile can do.
And so to Michael, my favorite nephew, I wish you a happy, happy birthday and a year full of joys, big and small; I only wish I could be there to share this day with you (except for the getting braces part--you're on your own there).
I miss your hug-me-downs terribly.
And don't let Manny do this to your cake!
Baci e abbracci