Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The family increases

"The family increases."

This was what my father-in-law said anytime he found out a new grandchild was on the way. Once, at a family Christmas gathering, my wife told her father she was expecting -- but asked him please don't say anything because it was too early in the pregnancy. So... at dinner... all my father-in-law said was, "The family increases." Those three words -- and my wife's face -- told the entire story anyway.

This brings us to last night, when the phone rang. It was my mother-in-law. "The family increases," she said.

I have a niece who was expecting; from these words alone, I knew she'd apparently gone into labor.

We don't have much contact with our niece -- she's a lawyer, married to another lawyer who's serving in the Army. They're based in Virginia at present. But distance is not the reason for our lack of contact: Long Suffering Spouse doesn't talk to her sister, my niece's mother -- which is the sort of thing you find all the time in an Irish family. Except, of course, my wife's family is Cuban.

But talk, schmalk! A baby is a baby and the birth of a healthy baby in the family, even in a branch we don't talk to, is a happy thing. And my mother-in-law, who does talk to that side of the family, was over the moon. "I'm going to be a great-grandmother!" she enthused.

"What were you before? Mediocre?" I asked, immediately ashamed of myself for being a smart-aleck. I quickly passed the phone to my wife.

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