I met him the first time a few days after he was born. And it was love at first sight.
It wasn’t just because he was small and cute and smelled good. Or because he had hair, since hairy babies are kind of a given in this family. His uncle called him Buddy Hackett because he thought he looked a lot like the comedian with the same name who always looked a little goofy and lopsided. Nope. I loved him because to me, still childless, he looked familiar and unbreakable. He’s had a lot of different names through the years…Peter, Pete, PJ, Pedro, Big Head, and Pete Skeet, just to name a few. I’m glad Buddy Hackett never stuck. I’m sure he is, too.
He was a boy’s boy, proving to his parents more than once his level of unbreakable-ness. His arrival on the scene gave the rest of us faith that any babies in the family who came after would be unbreakable, too. And to the one, they were sturdy children. Pete was the test baby. The prototype.
It’s the strangest thing. Time passes, but doesn’t, in a family. The babies grow up, but stay small in our hearts. All it takes to be transported back to those early years of parenting small ones is a photo. Yesterday, on my way to looking for someone else, I found a faded photo of this dear nephew of mine. In the picture, he is three and standing in the yard at the lake in a life jacket with the old bridge in the background. It is summertime. He has a perch no bigger than a goldfish on the end of a fishing line and he is beaming from ear to ear. Looking into the camera like he is the greatest fisherman of all time. Like he’d just caught a muskie or whale or something. Full of joy. Joy filled. This is how I remember him. This is how I see him, even today.
It is his birthday today. He’s 26. Fully grown and fully employed with all of his appendages. In love with a dark haired woman who thinks he’s quite a catch. I have to agree.
Happy Birthday, Dear Peter. Oh, happy, happy day.