I’ve said not once, but twice now – I have the coolest nieces an uncle could ask for. While I’ve got a special bond with each of them, this fiery fellow Aries and I almost got to share a birthday but was too excited to join the party and showed up a couple days early. She was born Aubri Jean in tribute to her Maga (Grandma Jeanne), most people call her Aub, but she’ll always be Pook to me.
The third and final addition to the A-team as we like to call them came into the world 11 years ago last night at a birthing center less than a mile from my parents’ home, which was a mildly traumatic experience for yours truly. Being one room away from a natural childbirth was not something I was prepared for – the whole ordeal inspired a blog about being thankful for my Y chromosome. I’m still recovering from it to this day. That nightmare aside, her being raised around the corner from our family home meant I got to spend far more time with her during the early days than her older sisters, giving me a front row seat to watch her vibrant personality blossom from nearly day one. But not actually day one…thank God. Yes, it’s still too soon.
She came along at just the right time in my life and will probably never fully understand how much she helped me come through some of my darkest days. I was smack dab in the middle of a 2 1/2-year stint of bed rest due to a pressure sore, and her bright-eyed face every morning helped lift my spirits and give me something positive to look forward to. When I was finally healed, she became an almost permanent fixture on my lap, doing her part to help tilt my chair or brush my teeth when she could barely stand. There’s been an extra level of lighthearted sass to this one that has shined brighter with every year, whether it was striking a pose for cameras at her sister’s first day of kindergarten or setting her Maga straight about the ins and outs of smart phone technology before the age of three.
Flash forward to today, and she’s a fascinating blend of both her big sisters, equal parts Ali’s heart and Abi’s strong will, but with a certain spunky twist. She’s never met an animal she didn’t love, has an unsurpassed creative streak, and has rocked every hairstyle she’s ever attempted. The family moved back south in recent years, so I don’t see her as often as I’d like, but the recent schools’ closures allowed us to spend some extra time with her. Every time she comes, she seems to be another foot taller, but that signature smile hasn’t changed a bit. And as always, she falls quickly back into old habits as my number one helper, playing Paga (Grandpa Skip)’s apprentice as they wire up switches for my freshly remodeled home, wrestling my arms into my jacket for a scoot around the neighborhood, and helping her Auntie Claire decorate a birdhouse with a little extra flair. I’m a lucky guy to have her in my life.