My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Celebration Day

Before I jump backwards in time with Operation Catch-Up once again, just a quickie...

July 12th was Dad's 84th birthday. Although there are a few things going on in the medical arena that none of us (especially Dad) find terribly thrilling, he's actually in pretty darn good shape for a man of his age. As scary as it is to type "of his age" in that sentence, I'm happily amazed on a daily basis at how much energy Dad's able to muster to keep up with his (apparently nuclear-powered) granddaughter. He's come a long, long way from that three-story Brooklyn brownstone where he was born the youngest of seven in a back room. (We last visited that neighborhood in December, 2005; the building where Dad was born was the only familiar landmark remaining from the 1930s. Ironically, it housed a Chinese take-out stand on the first floor.) All along, through the years working odd jobs as a kid, the U.S. Navy, the State of New York, the U.S. Foreign Service, and a few other employers, he willingly, willfully, and continually made his family his Number One Priority, no matter what. It's a powerful lesson he has passed on to his children... and to his granddaughter as well.

July 12th was the 4th anniversary of the Pipsqueak's Gotcha Day. At exactly 3:33pm local time in Nanning on July 12, 2010, I watched a nearly bald (and in retrospect kind of scrawny), quiet, bewildered baby placed in my sister's waiting arms. We don't know if she has any siblings, or if her official birthday is her actual physical birthdate, or even where she was born (the local market town or one of the 11 nearby farming villages are all equally likely). We just know that she's become the center of this family's universe, and happily reciprocates all the caring & loving we can dish out her way. On a nearly daily basis, she lets us know we are her family, smiling as she reminds Mom & Dad that their actual identities are Grandma and Grandpa (or occasionally "Papa"), and often laughing out loud when she reminds me I'm her uncle and she's my niece. As for AJ, well... nobody, but nobody, gets between Miri and Mommy. I'd dare you to try, but my niece will likely do you some serious damage if you accepted the dare. :-)

I don't have a lot of photos of our quiet little family party on the evening of the 12th. We got together with some of the usual suspects (Uncle M, Aunt D, Cousin E) during the day for lunch at (what else?!?) a Chinese restaurant. We had a  nice dinner together, just the five of us, that evening, followed by Miri helping Grandpa blow out the candles on a really yummy chocolate cake, with ice cream added for all who wanted any. For me, one of the most telling moments came as we were all walking through a nearby strip mall after a quick stop for some school supplies(!) for the Pipsqueak. I looked behind me and saw my parents, a lot grayer than they were back in the Brooklyn days, moving kinda slow but moving on their own and smilingly watching their daughter and granddaughter walking up ahead. I looked ahead and there was my sister walking hand-in-hand with my niece, now a happily vocal, long-haired young girl with gobs & gobs of personality and enough self-confidence to always want to do for herself (and help us with anything we happen to be doing).

It was a day of retrospection... but definitely a day of celebration for us all.

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