My sister, Virginia, is the apple of my kids' eyes. They love Aunt Ginny dearly, and they are always so damn excited when she is able to come up from the land of stars and starlets and visit. While they were certainly worried, to a degree, about Pete's surgery, their concerns were nearly overwhelmed by the prospect of Aunt Ginny's arrival.
She has been with Tom for many years, since before Pete and I were together. They've been married 10 years. They are childless, by choice. But Aunt Ginny loves my children fiercely, and they return that love by a multiple of three. The kids see her two or three times a year. They've only seen Uncle Tom once down in Southern California and twice when he's come up here with Aunt Ginny. When Aunt Ginny comes up, she stays with us. When Aunt Ginny and Uncle Tom visit, they stay in a hotel.
I've always viewed Tom's reluctance to stay at our house as relating to his need for peace and order and quiet and being able to do what he wants when he wants. No one gets any of that at our house. We are loud. [And when I say "we," I mean me as well.] Things are chaotic. There is never any peace and quiet.
I always felt Tom doesn't like kids in general, although he likes my kids just fine. Just not in large doses.
In our conversation with Tom to tell him about the surgery, he offered to immediately fly up to help with the kids and to help us. My sister was in Mexico on vacation at the time. It was a genuine offer, and Pete and I were quite touched by it. We were already set on the kid front, so we didn't have to take him up on his offer.
Ginny arrived on Thursday, in anticipation of Pete being discharged on Friday. Tom arrived on Friday to assist, and he left very early this morning to get back to everything he had left behind. Ginny leaves tomorrow, having also put her life on hold.
When I told the kids Uncle Tom was coming, too, they were over-the-top excited. Uncle Tom! Uncle Tom! They've not seen him since Christmas 2006. Their level of excitement (nearly) matched their anticipation of Aunt Ginny coming.
The kids' parents are fried. Pete can't do anything, really, and I'm not doing much better on the catering-to-their-every-need front. Uncle Tom has risen to the challenge. He's played X-box with Eldest. He's listened to Youngest babble. He's taken them to the movies. He's made dinner for all. He's picked up Chinese food. He's gone shopping. And he's helped Pete walk up and down the stairs and around the high school track. He's been there for all of us.
I'm not sure if he's gone back home with a splitting headache and the desire to wait a couple of years before subjecting himself to all of this again. He very well might have.
But I don't think so. I think he's gone home happy to have been such a big help to us. I think he's gone home happy to have a bunch of people -- kids included -- adore him and be glad he's part of our family.