nephews at nautilus teachings

the year was 1981
mom was alive
my brothers had
all gotten married
were working
starting families
my dad was traveling
my parents
had found bliss
in being
at least part time
empty nesters
as i was in college.
Aug 4th of this year
right before i went
away for my sophomore year
my nephew was born.
OMG! i loved him so much
and my brother and his
gorgeous wife
allowed me access to him
any time i was home
as much as i wanted
even when he
was sleeping…
i would wake him up
just to cuddle and hold him
as he grew i would dress
like a clown on special days
and we would giggle
and play for hours.
he stole my heart
so so so long ago.
i loved that little
freckle -faced
red haired boy.
loved just being in his space.
when he was 4,
right after mom was
diagnosed with leukemia
and given 6 months to live
my brother uprooted his family
and moved across the country
to california…
he said it was for a job opportunity
and right now it doesn’t matter
if that was truth or not
because i believed he did it
because he could not watch mom die
because of all the pain
and suffering he had caused her
in his growing up.

they moved
it broke
my heart,
not to mention
my mothers heart.
plus i was very angry
at him
for taking away my nephew
who i felt such a connection with
my new niece i had barely
gotten a chance to know
and leaving at a time
when family should be
pulling together,
not moving away.
yet, my family
was never close
and although i had
found common ground
with my brother
since he married
straightened out his life
and became a father
i was just
raging with anger…
over the next 31 years
i tried to stay in touch
with my nephew
making sure he
new i loved him.
when he and his beautiful wife
had their first child,
a son
i painted a 3’ x4’ portrait
of the sleeping little man
and shipped it to them.
we have had very little conversation
over the last 31 years
but when we do chat
or text
i still see his handsome
happy little self
still feel his tiny hands
aunt sheri’s neck
and i miss him.
he knows i love him
but sometimes it is not enough.
we live thousands of miles apart
and i have yet take the trek to CA
to visit him and his growing family.

i feel like i am a bad aunt
and i know my mom would be sad
that i have disconnected with
the family.
but with him
there never was a severing of ties
i always made sure he knew
i loved him.
on Christmas Eve
i received a fed-ex
envelope from CA
from my nephew-
and before i even opened it
i cried.
it could have been a hate letter
(not that i think he is capable!
he is such a gentle soul)
inside was his christmas card
with his wife and two small kids
on the front
and an additional photograph
for me to frame-
which i did instantly…
but the coolest thing
the one that tore up my heart
in a good way
and made me ball even louder?
was the magazine he sent me…
you see he builds log homes
in california
he is talented, creative, smart
and a hard worker
so i was not surprised to see
his recently built log home
for a client
on the cover of a magazine…
i read it over and over
cried more
and thought to my old self,
“sheri, this is the best
christmas present a girl can get…”
you see,
what my nephew gave me
was the priceless gift of memories
of mom
of my youth
of happy times
but mostly
of how much
that little crapper meant to me
and how i need to make sure
i take the time
to go visit him
and tell him
how proud i am of him
and how much i dearly love him…