Monday, November 16, 2009

Once there was a Spaceship on the Roof

Watching a repeat of Bryant Gumbel's "Real Sports" program on HBO on Saturday, Gumbel was doing his end-of-program monologue - speaking about the return of the Yankees to the World Series and how that was a good thing - when he paused to refer to an observation Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell made a lifetime ago. Russell pointed out that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.

I am one of six siblings. Ours is likely not an atypical family in that over time my relationship with at least one of my siblings has been less than ideal. In fact, in at least one or more instance the relationship has been non-existent. Margaret and I have been married sixteen and one-half years and have been together for eighteen plus. During that time, I have an older brother who lives roughly fifteen minutes from us - and has lived that close the entire time that we have been together - who neither my wife nor our children have ever met. And, candidly, I am at a loss to envision the circumstances under which they will.

All six of us have children. And - as I have come to realize over the course of the past several months - most of the "nextgen" are no longer kids. More than a couple of them are parents themselves, which means that I am more than simply an uncle, I am a "great" uncle. The irony of me - who has barely achieved mediocrity as an uncle - attaining the dizzying heights of greatness is not lost on me. Trust me. It is not.

The oldest of the nextgen is thirty-four years old today. It is remarkable to me that one who once was so young is now a young woman of thirty-four. Through the artifice of "social networking" I have reestablished a line of contact with her - and with some of her fellow members of the nextgen. I would not go far or be so bold as to presume it constitutes the resumption of a relationship. She was - as were those with whom I lost contact a lifetime ago and a generation removed from where we are now - a child when I last knew her.

The road back from apathy is a hard one. And I for one do not pretend to have any idea where it leads. I hope though - for today - it leads to a happy birthday.


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