We had a pretty awesome weekend at Casa de Katie. Sure it was a bit windy (we had a wind advisory five days in a row, I’m pretty sure), but instead of the tornadoes we were supposed to get Sunday, it downpoured, then cleared off and was sunshiney and gorgeous and perfectly warm outside. Even better than the near-perfect weather was the company. My cousin Kene was visiting friends in San Antonio and drove up Sunday to spend the day with us. I know! First my besties came up for the weekend, then my cousin, and then in two weeks Kim in coming to surprise Gracie for her birthday (and to build me a firepit). So many fun visits from home! (I almost wonder if there was a mini-conference with the fam and they decided some well-checks on Katie were in order.)
Kene might only have been in town for the one day, but we crammed an awful lot of fun – and talking, have I mentioned my entire family likes to talk? – into our time together. The girls were shy at first (of course), but as Kene and I sat chatting and catching up, the girls soon crawled out of their shells. It probably helped that I let them get filthy dirty as they experimented with the soaking wet chalk outside on the patio. They made chalk-paint and it was everywhere. But they were happy and talking, so it’s all good.
After the girls cleaned off (a hose probably would have been helpful there), we went inside and Uncle Kene played Mr. Wizard. He taught the girls how to make superballs with borax, corn starch, warm water and glue.
I was surprised that Gracie didn’t grill him down about the science, or ask him the hundreds of questions she thought of during the past week, but I didn’t press her.
After our experiment, we took Kene out for Irish Nachos and did a little sight-seeing in Arlington, showing him how massive Cowboys’ Stadium looks up close and the Rangers’ ballpark.
After dinner, it was back to the patio, to enjoy the warm weather. Kene had to induct Fenway into the brew crew. There may or may not have been pics of Kene teaching his sister’s puppy, Lucy, to drink beer. It may or may not have been so much of a family hit that I demanded a similar pic of him and Fenway. I can neither confirm nor deny. But I will say that Gracie was mortified when I mentioned the possibility. She thought I was going to turn her dog into an alkie. heh.
While we were talking about everything under the sun, the girls were busy entertaining themselves. They jumped rope and competed against each other and kept whacking themselves in the face, and pulled out their glow-in-the-dark chalk kits, which I let them make. Then there was a limbo competition, during which Fenway kept trying to help. And by helping, I mean turn it into a tug-of-war competition.
After the sun went down and the air cooled off, we moved the gathering back into the house and the girls eventually went to bed. Kene and I talked about family news, how everyone was doing, how his mom was recovering from her lung transplant surgery, marriages, divorces, how many things change and how much stays the same, my ten-year-plan to move home, and of course we talked about his dad. I told him about all of the awkward conversations I’ve been having with those near and dear to me, letting them know how much they mean to me, because I don’t think Uncle Teddy knew that he was like another dad to me. A lot of my uncles are, but we spent so much time with Auntie Cheryl and Uncle Teddy growing up. And Kene said the most wonderful thing, not to be too sure that his dad didn’t know. And even though I do know that deep down, hearing Kene say that was like a benediction; I felt the boulder of grief that’s been sitting on my chest shift a little. The relief was – is – overwhelming.
So yes, it was a wonderful visit, filled with laughter and good things. After Kene left, Bee said in the car, “I wish we could keep Uncle Kene as our brother.” I started to tell the girls that uncles are even better than brothers because there’s less torture and hijinks involved…but then I remembered all the fun and pranks and craziness my uncles visited on me and stopped myself. Family, in all its crazy capacities, is the best.
The girls called me out to the patio Monday night as I was cooking dinner. They had made a sign and wanted me to post it to Facebook. “We Miss You, Uncle Kene!” it read. Family is the best – pretty sure the girls agree.