Birthdays, babies, and monsoon season

The gutters are again gushing with rain overflow. These recent downpours remind me of visiting my Auntie Blanche and Uncle Otis in Arizona as a child. It seems we always scheduled our vacation during their monsoon season. The storms were fast-moving and torrential. In between the onslaught of rain we would play miniature golf, soak in the hot tub, or see the sights of Arizona. As the rain thumps against our office window, and I hear the waterfall from the gutters and ponder the life of my already rain-drenched flowers, I’m reminded of those summers. I can hear Auntie Blanche calling us “love,” an endearment she picked up while they lived in England. I can see my dad and Uncle Otis hefting their golf clubs into the trunk of the car. And I can feel my mother’ s gentle touch as she smoothed Noxema over my sunburnt shoulders. The one thing I don’t remember is the humidity. That is a gift of Kansas following a downpour in June, heavy humidity.

This weekend was busy with birthdays and babies. While attending a  birthday party Friday night,  the realization came over me that yes, my brother and his friends are all turning 40. Friday night was the belated 40th party for Terry, one of my brother’s best friends and a great friend of ours and my family. The realization came over me when I looked over at the swimming pool and instead of seeing the usual group of guys, beers in hand, coolers afloat in the pool, there were children. Many children. And the coolers were tucked safely in the garage. After many years of birthday pool parties with my brother and his friends, this was quite a new sight. Unfamiliar, but pleasant.

Then our granddaughter celebrated her second birthday on Saturday. It seems only yesterday we were at Wesley Hospital, Rainey was barely 12 hours old, and the tornado sirens were sounding. She is rambunctious, smart, funny, and adorable. Everything a two-year-old granddaughter should be.

And Sunday was the baby shower for my niece, Holly. When I saw her protruding belly for the first time (she lives in Chicago), it suddenly became clear I am to be a great-aunt. A great-aunt. Hard to imagine. Holly, my second niece and God-niece, the independent child, the young girl who loved to wear overalls, the young woman with the strong voice and strong mind, is going to be a mother. I still remember holding her as an infant, her coal-black tuft of hair soft to the touch. I remember how she loved music and would memorize songs after one listening, mimic Mtv videos, and was generally the loud child. She is having a boy, a son, Lucas Michael. I’m intrigued to see the little man that he is and will be. We shared a wonderful afternoon with the great-great aunts, the great-grandma, the grandma, the first, second and third cousins. We ate, we laughed, we told stories, and we fell into that familiar rhythm of family, a music we have all memorized and are familiar.

It continues to rain. Flashes of lightning, loud claps of thunder, and the wind slashes the rain against the window and house. But strangely, I am content, in tune to the movement of the storm, and the heartbeat of my memories.

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