Saturday, July 23, 2016

stand by, keep watch

Strong and with grace, my friend Donna labored all yesterday and through the night. The midwife - her mother one of the women who helped bring my sisters into the world - and her assistant guided her through, wisdom and skill and short cat naps as things ebbed and flowed.

I'm not a father and I never will be. Too queer, too lazy, too old now. This is not a lament, just a statement. I am an uncle. When someone I love gives birth, I feel an urge as simple and compelling as breath: be at hand. stand by. keep watch. The knight at vigil, the guard at the gate. More honestly, the fellow sleeping in a chair in the corner, ready to fetch snacks or mind other kids, play cards with relatives, provide a shoulder. Just be there.

I got to hold this little one before she was two hours old. I talk nonsense to babies and they seem to like it as long as I pitch the sounds low in my chest like a hum, slow and deep. Uncle Hank is comforting. Her eyes, she was bright and watching already, half smiling, long fingers splaying and then grabbing. Kicking feet, dark curls of hair, already a beauty, already as strong as her mama.

17 comments:

  1. I'm an uncle figure too. I've never had the paternal instinct, but I'm always happy to assist!

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  2. Water, a black cat, and a deftness with children and words. This is a world to which I can aspire!

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  3. A beautiful post, Hank.
    "low in my chest like a hum, slow and deep", It's magic for babies. And it works for most big people too.
    You are a good uncle, Hank, and a good man. So glad you are writing.

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  4. You've got your mother's way with words, Hank, and I look forward to keeping up with you from my humble abode up here in Saskatchewan. You're added to my blogroll; welcome!

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  6. Steve: exactly.

    Radish King: I am my mother's son.

    liv: "And it works for most big people too." I'm pretty sure that explains any luck I've had in love.

    Stubblejumpin Gal: Howdy, how's the weather? I'll be checking out all y'all's own blogs over the next few days. Can't wait to see your world.

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    1. Hank. Since you asked: hot and muggy during the day, cloudy and stormy come evening. This hot/muggy business over the past several years seem to be a taste of Florida weather. We used to say ours was a dry heat. Not anymore.

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    2. I prefer a damp heat, truly. The dry doesn't suit me.

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  7. My (step) dad is a baby whisperer. He puts them on his chest and just starts to talk. Baby asleep in less than a minute.

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  8. Birdie: I think a lot of it is sheer body warmth.

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  9. I'm not a parent either, and at 41 now I don't expect to be, but that doesn't mean that you and I can't be important influences in the lives of other peoples' children. I don't even have blood nieces and nephews, being an only child, and my husband's nieces and nephews are grown. Kids just aren't in the cards for me. A dear friend had a baby girl on January that I was so looking forward to...and the poor child only lived 3 days. That's still a sorrow to me, as I considered myself her auntie. I hope one day my friend will have another baby, but I'm not sure she can bear to try. So cherish those babies in your life...a loving uncle will be a blessing to them.

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  10. Hi Hank, I'm a reader of your beautiful mama's blog. It's great to see you blogging and I feel like I kinda know you a little bit from reading your mama's blog.

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  11. Jennifer: I'm so sorry to hear about the baby. Some of us don't even get a chance. I am blessed to have so many kids in my life.

    Leisha: I may be biased, but Mama's is the best blog I read.

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  12. Oh, Hank. I had to ring my brother 2 weeks after my first child was born, and tell him to come visit me. Sigh. You are a wonderful uncle.

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  13. Jo: Well, we all live in the same town, so that makes it easy.

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