I like my name. It has a dual nature, just like ever other element of what makes me. It is difficult to understand at first for many people. Then they spell it and laugh at how easy it is. It is a pretty simple denominator of a bygone era. It is a bit out of fashion but it has never really been in fashion either. It does not inspire ethereal dreams or dangerous thoughts of fatality. It is what it is and it cannot be made any better or worse. There is no need and no reason to change it or alter it in anyway. It is the only thing by which I can be called.

Or that is what I thought.

Listening to my little nephew call me “auntie” and my sister call me by my “easy” name I realize that I have changed already. I have entered another stage of my life, where I am not an individual anymore, but a brick of my family structure. As timeless as I like to think of myself, along comes this new entity and messes up everything. I can’t think of my mom as mom anymore but as “granmammy”. If I call her “mom” he looks at me puzzled. That is not mom, the lovely younger creature that I protected fiercely and simultaneously hid from all my life  is mom now. Daddy is now someone younger than me!

The rest of the family seems to have settled in their new skins without any outward signs of trouble. They have made room and rearranged themselves  for this little terror without thinking twice. It all seems so natural and they can’t seem to remember a time without him. I have been caught between my desire to give in, to please and enjoy with the rest, and my scaredy cat brain terrified of any changes, that feels like another chip is off my identity as an individual. I find myself afraid of the word “aunt”. Not because I look the part. Well maybe I do look the part, but I am not worried in that respect.

Aunts have historically been strange. Black sheep aunt, rowdy aunt, spinster aunt, sister-aunt, bonkers aunt, hot aunt, creative aunt, witchy aunt, cookie monster aunt, ATM aunt, auntie dearest. It all feeds into the mystique I want for myself and the place I would once like to occupy in the family history. You know, THAT Aunt.  But nobody told me it was going to be like this, so Alice through the rabbit hole. I am an aunt, a (much) younger generation is born, and my family, my anchor in stressful times has been altered right under my nose.

He does not accept no for an answer. He does not acknowledge or even notice the reluctance but climbs right on my lap and gives me a kiss in the nose. He does not know how to kiss yet so it is just an air smack, but it makes me feel warm. He settles in my lap and expects me to “read” the colorful book with four pages and ten words he shoves under my nose. Somehow it is a more difficult read than War and Peace. Usually I have to read and think a lot to get what the author has to say. Then, to show my intelligence and womanly maturity, I have to discuss it with other impossing figures while nonchalantly but uncomfortably perching on bar stools and inhaling secondhand smoke.  Here, I have to look at illustrations and speak in different voices. He soaks it all up and “helps” me over the difficult parts. He knows them all by heart.

I love it. I am terrified of it. I like holding his hand in mine, and being pulled as an argument into the “going at daddy’s home” war. I like to know that he wins arguments with all, but can’t stand up to cookie monster. He always does what I say even when he doesn’t.

So yes, another change has happened. We did not know about it before, and everybody seems to have forgotten it as soon as they noticed if they noticed it at all. We have been replaced by pod people. I am now another thing and another thing I am called by.


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