Thursday, November 11, 2004

Johnny is my nephew...sort of

Published November 2004

JD & I have 15 nieces and nephews. All are terrific kids – let’s face it they are the children of our siblings, who have done a terrific job raising their children. I admit I have my favorites, only because I might know them a little better than the others but for the most part, each of them are absolutely fabulous and I am grateful to be their aunt.

Through the years as these children have grown into young adults, I see less of them than when they were babies. I miss hanging with my nieces and nephews, but those little ‘auntie pangs’ don’t last for long. Most of the people we go to church with are like family to us and many of the families’ home school, so when we are together it’s usually for many social and educational outlets. One family in particular has nine children. We see each other frequently because our kids are involved in many of the same activities. I love their kids. We’ve traveled with them across country and I still like them. Half her kids were in my car and mine were in hers on our first vacation together when one of them jokingly said, “Mrs. Maher, can I call you mom?” “No, buddy, you only have one special mom…but you can call me Aunt Tam”. Some names just stick like peanut butter and that is a name I can live with.

I’ve been Aunt Tam for the last couple years and to be an adopted aunt has its advantages. First of all, each Sunday I get at least one hug if not two, and if I am fortunate to remember these kids birthdays, it gives me the opportunity to dote on them with their favorite things. Their favorite things are as unique as each of their personalities. Case in point:

Johnny is my son’s age and if you were to see my son Conor with his “cousin” Johnny, you’d think they were biological cousins. They are approximately the same size and they serve Mass together like identical chess pieces. They enjoy the same interests (dodge ball and books) in particular they enjoy history. Johnny prefers the Civil War and Conor likes WW II history, specifically Pearl Harbor. Both are history trivia buffs and exchange stories from their various wars and heroes. That Jeopardy whiz guy, Ken whathisface, wouldn’t stand a chance if the category was Famous Wars or Songs of the South for $1000.00. Conor has already met Alex Trebek and if I could get my son and his ‘cousin’ Johnny on that show, JD and I could retire rich…ah but, I digress.

A while back we were all at Borders in Folsom when Johnny ran up to his mother and asked her if she would buy him something. It was a CD. She is really good about not spoiling her children or indulging every whim. However, Johnny has a smile and charm that could melt butter and bankrupt a weak willed woman, so I asked him what CD he wanted. I figured it was the latest pop sensation, as it usually is with my teenage daughter. He handed me a CD of the “Essential Gene Autry”. I had to restrain myself from laughing out loud and pinching his cheeks. How sweet. What kid asks for Gene Autry? I remembered he had a birthday coming up so I told him to be patient, knowing full well that it would be the perfect birthday gift for him. He was born on Veterans Day 12 years ago. Believe me if you knew this kid, you would say that it was highly appropriate that this old civil war loving soul was born on Veterans Day.

November 11 rolled around and the kids and I presented him with the Essential Gene Autry” and the Civil War Songs of Tennessee Ernie Ford. I can just hear Johnny singing overdoses of the Yellow Rose of Texas and You are my Sunshine which are only done well by Gene, Bing & Johnny. I did it for three completely selfish reasons; the four hugs I received after giving it to him, being a sucker for old world charm and after all, Johnny is my nephew….sort of.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her at

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