03 March 2004

Happy 18th Birthday, Brian Hastings

My sister Meg and her family came up to Chicago this weekend for the purpose of celebrating her son's birthday.  Brian is my only nephew.  I was 18 when he was born, and I had no idea what it was going to be like with a baby in the house.  There was some anticipation, of course, but I did not imagine that I would do much more than try to teach the kid weird noises when it reached a certain age.

I remember the phone ringing early in the morning on February 28, 1986 and my sister saying four words that changed my life: "you have a nephew."  I was hooked the first time I saw him, through the glass to the maternity ward in the hospital, and I soon realized that this was going to be a different experience from anything I had ever been through.

He's 18 now.  I feel old.  I really do.  It's not possible that 18 years have gone by.  Brian is a world-class human being.  I have never met a kid so thoughtful, helpful and unselfish.  I think about him when he was seven and insisted on going to the store himself to pick out flowers on his own for Mother's Day, or when he was leery of going off the high diving board at the pool but did so shortly after his great grandmother died when he was nine.  The first thing he said when he got out of the water was "I did it for Grandma Grace."  I could fill up many more entries just with the recollections of wonderful things he has said and done.

My nephew is a credit to his parents, my parents, his sister and everyone who has spent some time with him.  Brian has learned a lot from a great deal of people.  I have been fortunate to do a lot of fun things with him, from going to baseball games in different parts of the country, introducing him to golf, and winning the World Cup from him in FIFA soccer on Nintendo (he is especially touchy about that...), and in every one of those and countless other events, he has taught me something with the way he behaves.  He has been a gentleman from the day he was born.

I get frustated when I hear people complain that the kids of today have no direction, that they are lost.  I know that this is not true.  There have to be a lot of other kids out there like Brian.  I am hopeful for the future of this world knowing that there are others out there like him.

My nephew is the son that I have never had but hope to God I do someday.

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