Yes, we have quite an interfaith family on my wife’s side. A female episcopal deacon, an evangelical minister, a Catholic Deacon (now deceased), some protestants and my sister in law is married to a Jewish man and she converted and her immediate family is Jewish.
You would think that Thanksgiving would be quite the battle, but it’s not. We talk pretty openly about religion and we learn much from one another. It’s helped me venture into interfaith relationships on campus and helped all of my colleagues understand one another a bit better. It’s very cool that I’ve been the conduit for such openness.
But back to the nieces and the nephew…
They are a gang of five and they all were in our wedding. One is now a sophomore in college (and clearly my wife’s favorite). Another a high school senior. The twins, a young man and young lady have started high school and the youngest is still my pal even though now, the teen-age years are upon us. I wonder how much time I have left before Uncle Mike no longer is cool enough to sit at her lunch table?
I love them all. But hardly get to see them as much as I’d like to. The high school senior performed in her final high school play–which has been a huge part of her high school experience. As a final doff of the cap, each student kisses the stage goodbye as their final act. So long, high school.
It seems like yesterday they were in our wedding as cute little kids and now one of them is working on political campaigns and another is about to be traveling the world on a “gap year” experience.
They are growing up so fast. I can only imagine what this is like for their parents because it is giving me whiplash. The boy’s voice is as deep as mine now. My favorite is getting taller by the minute and plays a mean piano now. I don’t dare challenge anyone to a basketball game, because they’ll wipe the floor with me.
Indeed time is limited. The world turns and while I’m not an everyday presence in their lives, they always have the grace to welcome us into their lives when we are able to be there for the big events.
I joked with the youngest this weekend and said as we were getting ready to say good-bye:
“Well, we have to get ready to leave soon.”
“Yep. Guess so.” she replied.
“Um, the proper response is ‘Oh no, Uncle Mike! I never want you to leave!'”
She giggled and parroted my line back at me, sweet girl that she is.
I have no children of my own and no other nieces and nephews. So these five are indeed very special to me. The youngest was barely a year old when Marion and I married, so perhaps that’s why she is especially dear to me. I have known her close to her entire life and continue enjoying watching her grow. Their parents are great folks and I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to like them. My brother in law has a great sense of humor and enjoys a good ribbing.
As she was called to the Torah, I shed a few tears. As her older sister cried as she kissed the stage, I wept for her loss, knowing that time past is not always as slow as we would like it to be.
God calls us to cherish these present moments. Because they are all we have. Each day, each minute is to be savored.
Blessings, on each of you, my dear nieces and nephew. You always reflect God’s love in my life.