Yesterday was my nephew's 18th birthday. "Milestone" birthdays like this one really bring back a lot of memories and make you think about things that you haven't had time to think of in years. Bear with me as I take a trip down memory lane.
We were in high school, my sister and I. We are one year and 3 days apart and I stayed back in 10th grade, so we ended up in the same classes and graduating together. Michelle's boyfriend was a boy we had known since kindergarten, and although we had been friends with him all along, he was not great boyfriend material. But we were young, so it was all about having fun. Until the day we had graduation rehearsal and Michelle took a pregnancy test. It came out positive. We were giddy with excitement, despite the fact that we were also scared to death. I say "we" as if we were siamese twins, which we may as well have been! LOL Seriously, though, the both of us had wanted to be mothers since we were little kids, we had 7 aunts who all had kids younger than us so we had a baby on our hip at any family function from the time we were probably 7 or 8 years old! This was going to be AWESOME - a real-life baby to take care of ALL THE TIME. We were teenagers, need I say more?
Michelle moved in with her boyfriend's family late in her pregnancy. They lived right up the street, but I was still heart-broken. I won't go into the details, but her boyfriend didn't "rise to the challenge" of impending fatherhood by any means. On January 31, 1991, I was in my bedroom early in the morning getting ready for my day. I remember it so clearly, my mom walking in my room and telling me that Michelle had a healthy baby boy a few hours ago. I couldn't believe it, I was an "auntie"!!!
Within a month, Michelle moved back home with her precious little boy, Eric John. This kid was the happiest baby ever - he smiled all the time, laughed all the time, and was just the center of our universe. Michelle was working and going to college, so we were all lucky enough to get to be able to spend time with him. I was still a teenager, and I can remember strapping the carseat into my 2-door Daytona and bringing Eric with me to hang out with my friends on Saturday afternoons at the local park. Eric called me simply "auntie" - and everytime he said it, my heart would swell with pride and joy and love. A couple of years later, I was 21 years old and I got my first apartment, and one of the first things I did was buy a little kids' play-tent and set up a little play area for Eric in my bedroom at my apartment. He was such a good kid, I just loved having him over. He wasn't just sweet and loveable, he was absolutely adorable - I mean, LOOK at him! Look at those big blue eyes and that gummy, toothless grin! LOL
These are pictures we had taken at Sears above, Eric was just about 1 year old, so that would mean I was probably 20 and Michelle was 19. When I tell you that this baby was the center of our universe, I am not exaggerating. He meant the world to us, he was the first baby - the first grandbaby for my parents, the first great-grandbaby for our grandparents, etc.
Some funny things I remember about Eric when he was little - when he fell off his bike or hurt himself, he would scream bloody murder. The first few times it happened, we all went running like our butts were on fire, certain that we would find him half-dead or with missing limbs. We soon learned that he was just a little dramatic.... hee hee
When he was really little, probably 3 or 4 years old, he told me that he was going to take me to his prom. I never let him forget that, and it became a running joke in our family. As Eric's Junior Prom approached last year, he would randomly say to me anytime I saw him, "auntie, you are NOT coming to my prom - I'm not going to tell you where it is!" and he'd smile... I knew I couldn't let the joke just die, especially since HE kept bringing it up! hee hee So anyone who knows me is probably laughing right now wondering what I did, if you don't already know. The day of the prom, I was at work. Eric stopped in to see me and once again said "auntie, you're not coming to the prom tonight." Well, I had to do SOMETHING! That's a full-on CHALLENGE in my book! I had my husband bring me a dress that I had from a political fundraising event that I had been to. After work, I drove over to my sister's house and snuck in the back door. Cassidy was with me, she helped me get this dress on quickly hiding downstairs in my sister's basement. Meanwhile, Michelle was upstairs videotaping Eric and his friend - who had no idea why they were being videotaped. Eric kept saying, "What? Do I have something on me?" and laughing - suddenly, I come running up the stairs singing "your prom date is here!" He took one look at me and burst out laughing. He even POSED with me for pictures, he is the most good-natured kid I have ever known. These were taken with a cell phone, so they aren't great quality, but you get the idea:
This is Eric and his REAL date, Noel - Noel is still Eric's girlfriend and we love her! They had just started dating when he took her to the prom - she was not yet at his house when I made my entry. By the time she arrived, I had changed back into my "normal" clothes. Later on, when Eric told her what I did, she very seriously asked, "Did she really want to go?" She has since gotten to know me and the rest of our family and now realizes that we're just plain crazy. LOL
When Eric was 2 1/2, I gave birth to my own son, Trevor. Trevor was followed by my daughter Cassidy 21 months later, and then Michelle's other son Joshua a couple years after that. Our brother's son Christopher was born on January 1, 2001 - almost exactly 10 years after Eric. So there are roughly 2 years between all 5 kids - Eric has always been a wonderful role model to all of these kids and I am so proud of the young man that he has become. This is my auntie Karen, Eric, and me on Christmas Eve this past year, he's a full foot taller than me now - I have HEELS on in this picture! LOL
How do you explain to an 18-year-old boy/man how very much you love him and what he means to you? I am hoping he reads this blog so that he knows. As much as I love words, I love to write, sometimes it's hard to express exactly what you are trying to say because there just aren't words that capture the intensity of your feelings. That's how I feel about you, Eric. You are such a special kid, growing into a wonderful man, and I am so thankful that you're my nephew. Happy Birthday, buddy.