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STUCK MIDDLE: Joy comes early, joy comes late

Bill Humleker Bill Humleker

I don’t even know where to begin, and I am only very rarely at any sort of loss for words.

This week, I thought I would be writing about a lovely family occasion I attended at a nice Chesapeake Bay resort near Baltimore. The wedding of one of my Blonde Mafia nieces (our family ladies are, among other things, a fiercely close-knit, fair-haired sorority) was supposed to be a family event a year ago, only pandemic gripped the world and, well, you can guess the rest. This gathering was shaping up to be a bit like everyone’s début back into a more “normal” world.
And then I got several rapid-fire texts and my world stopped. I had to try to process all the dire bits and pieces of what was happening. As my readers know, The Empress (TE … that uber-protective mother/grandmother/best friend with whom I share my life) and I have been expecting two new grandchildren this coming August. Births are joyous, much-anticipated events … unless they happen too soon.
The medical details are not important here; let us just say that TE and I, to say nothing of Princess II and our brave son-in-law, are enormously grateful for the nationally recognized, Level III NICU unit at Mission Health. Baby James will be living there for however long necessary. His mama is recovering and, together with his daddy, will stay close, relying on much stronger hands, temporal and otherwise, to help them nurture their tiny new soul. New cousin Mason, our eldest grandson, summed things up as only a child can: he told a friend “My aunt accidently had her baby last night.” Accidently indeed. Prayers welcome!
Fast forward, and it was decided that as James and his mother were safe and doing well, some of us should indeed get ourselves to the family wedding. Princess I, our still-pregnant (whew!) wedding cake expert, set off by car with her terrific husband (and the cake!), while my Favorite Cousin and I lingered awhile longer and flew up to the Chesapeake shoreline. TE held full court at home dividing her hours among mentally supervising our new grandson’s care, emotionally and physically cuddling his mama and daddy, and worrying about our elder grandsons left at home with a sitter she did not personally appoint. I am not sure for whom I was praying harder: our new grandson, or the sitter … and TE knows I am teasing! Nonetheless, so far as I have heard, my boys did not burn their house down, nor did they hand-cuff their unsuspecting chaperone. Once upon a time my older brothers did that to one of our sitters, a too-trusting cousin who rather lamely fell asleep in a chair watching TV. I heard my dad “settling” that issue with my brothers some hours later. Just sayin’, but Dad had no opinion of Dr. Spock.
The wedding festivities were a wonderful tonic for the drama at home. It is truly lovely when a very nice young couple offer each other their hearts and share that joy among family and friends alike. I was honored and grateful to be there. And I cannot wait to meet one tiny cousin here at home who devoured an eyedropper of his mama’s best milk to celebrate the newlyweds. The rest of us joined wee James in that toast absolutely!

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Stuck in the Late Middle columnist Bill Humleker writes about family, community and culture in what he likes to call "HendoRock."