Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reception history

The title of this post will mean something very different to my colleagues who read this blog, but what is meant here is simply the account (historia) of our reception at Port Columbus International Airport. I apologize in advance for any confustion my choice of title may have caused.

Our plane was scheduled to land in Columbus at about 16:00, and as it was only about thirty minutes late I would consider that we landed, pretty much, on time. Our families, however, eager to not miss a thing, arrived at the airport in plenty of time to ensure that we didn't arrive before them. That is to say, they arrived sometime between 14:00 and 15:00. They were fairly stir-crazy by the time we emerged, which didn't mix particularly well with the normal kind of crazy with which they are normally afflicted. Here my Mum and Papa (the older people in the middle of the photo) wait with (from right) my brother Miguel, sister Danielle, and Danielle's "special friend", PJ. In the background is visible representatives of my wife's family, but we'll get to them in just a bit.

At this point some of our more astute readers are scratching their collective heads and asking themselves, "How did Rafael and/or Andrea take pictures of people waiting at the airport before they arrived?!" At which point I smile and touch my nose; some secrets must be kept. But moving swiftly on, here my grandmother Carolyn (on the left) waits with Andrea's aunt, Karen. I think in total we had fourteen people waiting for us, and Andrea's cousin and her boyfriend met us for dinner. All in all it was an impressive welcoming party, as you'll see. I wish I could affirm with confidence that this is how much our family loves us, that their excitement to see us is fairly typical of them. But I have a nagging suspicion that Janelle was the big draw. Like Ringo Starr touring with Sir Paul McCartney, we were just the opening act.

Well, needless to say, we did eventually arrive. Seated as we were in row 5, we should have been nearly first off the plane. But because we boarded our plane so late (that story is embedded in the much longer account of our Coming to America) our carry-on luggage was much further back on the plane. So we were a bit late disembarking the plane. But here Andrea is reunited with her father and my mother for the first time. Two things ought to be pointed out: first, Barry hasn't seen his daughter in well over a year, and yet in these first few moments of reunion his gaze is already diverted toward his four-week-old granddaughter. Second, I am nowhere to be seen in this photo, and neither are the two heavy bags and guitar we had on the plane with us. That's because I am lumbering up behind Andrea and Janelle, heavy-laiden with our remaining luggage, somewhat like Shrek's donkey. [Note: defines lumbering as "to move ponderously," which strikes me as a fantastic definition, even if it isn't necessarily the most helpful.]

Among Janelle's most excited admirers were Andrea's sister, Kim, and her oldest kids, Emily and Matthew. This is Janelle's first experience with her cousins, relationships I hope get stronger as she grows older. I'm beginning to notice something of a pattern that suggests my little angel is . . . well, sneaky. You, our faithful readers, have seen overwhelming photographic evidence that Janelle is not always placid, but whenever she meets someone new she slips into "Cute Sleepy Girl" mode. This, of course, makes her Papa look like a grumpy old git for telling people she can be a pain in the butt. So, after nearly two hours of fussing and yelling from Newark to Columbus, my little girl has, all of a sudden, turned on the charm. And it works. Even on me.

This photo is probably best entitled, "Dueling Grandmas." Susan is Andrea's mom and so is properly Janelle's grandmother; Carolyn (left) is my grandmother, so she's actually Janelle's great grandmother. But due to a trip to the cinema when I was eight with my grandmother, I have a hard time using the words "great" and "grandmother" so closely together. So we're trying to get everyone accustomed to "granny," a word about which Carolyn is somewhat less than excited. And yet I have a feeling that, whatever we end up calling these two ladies, they will be an important part of Janelle's awareness of being loved, and that greatly.

There's something about a baby that gets the women in our families to circle round like wagons on a prairie. The equivalent for the men in our families is a television, particularly if it's on, particularly if a football (not soccer) game is on, particularly if it's an OSU game. At any rate, we're beginning to get a sense that Janelle's public loves her, and yes, Janelle loves her public. I'm chuffed with how our families have taken to her, of course. But I'm also a bit concerned that the high level of spoiling that will take place will make any discipline that must occur difficult. Not that I'll be involved in any discipline; I'm already wrapped around her finger. But still, things could get difficult for her mother.

Personally, this is one of my favorite pictures from our arrival in Columbus. Here's Janelle with one of her aunts, Andrea's sister Kim. I'm not sure who's more impressed with whom, but this particular aunt-niece relationship seems to be starting off swimmingly (a word I don't use often enough). Kim is a professional baby whisperer (okay, so the link isn't exactly relevant; but you know what I'm getting at), and as her home is a scant 25-30 minutes from where we'll be settling down, I predict Andrea and I will be "delivering" Janelle to her aunt for babysitting . . . er, privileges . . . fairly regularly in the near future.

After she had her baby fix, Kim handed Janelle off to her eldest offspring and baby-whisperer-in-training, Emily. Emily is my favorite niece (well, also my only niece). The first time Emily held her cousin she (Janelle) started crying, and she (Emily) handed her back fairly quickly. But when we spent three days in Dayton the following week, Emily was not only able to handle Janelle when she was crying, but she was even becoming fairly expert at settling her and making her happy. One final note: as you can see from this photo, Emily is as tall as her mother. The last time I saw her this was not the case, and I am just amazed at how quickly she has grown/is growing up. This will not be the case with Janelle, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Youth. The Papa has spoken.

Astute readers may have noticed Barry lurking in the background of the last photo, somewhat like the Hamburglar at a McD's grand opening. Unable to resist his puppy-like whimpering any longer, we handed Janelle over to her Papaw. The expression on her face is not the result of any social faux pas on Barry's part; this was Janelle's reaction to a number of people (you'll see this borne out in the following photos). Nevertheless, despite all the fussing she managed to grab hold of my father-in-law's spine and twist it round her finger, bending his mind to her will almost without effort. Atta-girl.

I'm not so sure anything needs to be said about this picture. It's just a cute shot of a gorgeous girl. Really, I shouldn't be all that surprised that my daughter takes great pictures. Still, it's worth a brief moment of silence . . . just to appreciate the awesome beauty that is Janelle Helena.

[shhhhhh . . . I said "moment of silence!"]

As promised earlier, here's another shot of Janelle in full-scream. Indiscriminating readers may be tempted to comment that this is obviously my Papa, Janelle's Abuelo, as they detect more than a passing resemblance between him and me. Do not yield to this temptation. Everyone's opinions to the contrary, we are not that alike, we do not look alike, and, as he will confirm, we do not have the same sense of humor. Our readers may also sense some level of defensiveness in my tone. But you're wrong. You're ALL wrong. Every one of you.

[Breathing deeply and counting to ten. . . . 9 . . . and 10.] Okay, moving swiftly on. Here's another photo of Janelle screaming, this time in the arms of her cousin, Matthew, eldest son of the famous baby-whisperer mentioned above. Matthew's is a gentle spirit that promises to make him a wonderful cousin (as, indeed, all of Janelle's cousins will be), though his somewhat overly cheeky grin in this picture makes me just a bit worried about what he may be thinking. As the only son in a family that includes three daughters, it is probably something along the lines of, "Girls are a pain in the bottom." (This, actually, is consistent with Matthew's reaction when he found out Andrea and I were having a girl: he threw a fit. I was sympathetic, though I have to admit that I've since adjusted quite well to being a Papa with a beautiful daughter. In fairness to Matthew, he's adjusted quite well to having a female cousin.)

That will have to suffice for pictures and commentary about our arrival and reception in Ohio. There are plenty of other things to say, and lots of pictures for illustration. There are pics of Janelle with her Granny (okay, okay; her great grandmother), with her Grandma Ché, as well as of her uncle Mitch (as elusive as pictures of the ill-named cat-fox animal), and many, many more. But it will have to wait for another time. Until then, I hope you've enjoyed my offerings so far.


Anonymous Helen said...

So Raf ... you and your Dad are like Rich and Tom in that you wear the same jumper!

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Cor Blimey Raf, how old is aunty Kim? Can she send me some of what she is taking I might just look 18 again!! I guess we all look like our fathers but should we dress like them?

12:18 PM  

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