Saturday, September 2, 2011, was just as amazing of a family discovery day for me. I finally met my little brother, Michael and his stunning wife, Jennifer. Although they just endured hurricane Irene, which hit in North Carolina first, that did not stop them from driving about 11 hours to be part of this amazing reunion. They had a great deal of water in the neighborhood and some minor troubles from the high winds at home, but all in all they fared well and were still able to make the trip.
Regardless, Mike, Jen and I had been communicating via phone, text, FB, etc., since the initial discovery. In fact, during their spring trip to Buffalo when they initially discovered that I had found my father and family, Michael sent me a family photo from Chefs. That is why I wanted to have our initial family dinner with Steve and I at Chefs. Thanks, Michael for the idea. I know you wanted to be there, but nevertheless you made it. I just want you to know that we sure missed you.
Our meeting was as I had imagined it would be. It was casual and relaxed. It was as if we had known each other for much longer. We could talk freely, he was open, as was I and we shared together what needed to be shared with each other, including the bond of being family. We have something very important in common. We both honorably served our country. Michael was a Marine and I was in the Navy. I tease him and told him that he was still in the Navy, as he was paid by the Navy Department, but that is because it is a tradition to tease and we can with each other. I hope Michael knows how proud I am of him for making the same sacrifice to serve our country and that we are able to share that unspoken bond with each other.
His wife Jen is beautiful and you can really tell they are best buds too. While I don't want to go into it her, she will know why, but she inspires me. Such a young woman, who has fought a good fight and made it on the winning side. I am proud of you too, Jen! I am proud of all my new family members for one reason or the other. Mostly because of their willingness to take this leap of faith, but certainly for being such amazing people. I am honored to be related to them.
We spent a couple of hours at dad and 'mom's' house with my other little brother, David,his girlfriend Lorna and David's ADORABLE children, Nicholas and Lydia, my nephew and niece. I loved that the kids gave me a hug. It really warmed my heart. We were all getting to know each other better, sharing more about each other and sharing photos and memories too. Finally, we made it out the door to head to our sister and brother-in-law's home in Niagara Falls for the long awaited barbecue. I would learn later in the day that Bauth departures and goodbyes take an eternity...I like it that way.
Steve and I were in our car and ready to go, intending on driving our rental and following everyone to Kelly's. The next thing I know here comes Michael running down the street asking us to join him and Jen on the drive to Niagara Falls. Perfect, for many reasons. Mainly the opportunity to get to know him as I had David and Paul. The drive is only about 40 minutes, but all of us shared conversation about life, ourselves, family and anything else we could get in before our arrival. I really enjoyed the drive with them.
We arrived at Kelly and Rob's home on a very hot New York summer afternoon. Can we say HUMID? Wow! While I had been able to spend time with Kelly and some with Rob Friday evening at Chef's, I wanted to really try to spend as much time as I could while we were there and before we would leave later n the evening.
I finally met Kelly and Rob's other son, my nephew, Kyle. I had already met Ryan Friday evening at Chefs. As I mentioned in my early blog before, all of the Bauth and Daly kids are stunning young people in every respect, just like their parents. I know that they must be very proud of them. I was able to have some conversation with the boys, but Kyle was expecting his girlfriend to arrive and he just had his wisdom teeth pulled the day before. He had better things on his mind and agenda and I understood that.
The afternoon was all about family. There were backyard games to be played and some got into the swimming pool with Nicholas and Lydia, who spent the day there, to stay cool. A very smart thing to do on the very hot day. I did my best to get around to everyone, share photos and catch them up on the 52 years of my life and well as all of theirs. You can imagine that it was not an easy thing to do. I called my daughter, Chenin and passed the phone around to everyone who I could, so she could be part of this miracle with us. It was truly amazing for her and I. My sister, Kelly was very busy being such a wonderful hostess, running from one place to the next. I see why they call her 'super mom." A couple of times I followed her in and out of the house, just to do my best to communicate with her, look at photos and share life stories. While the time was short and I intend to make up time missed soon, I loved learning about her, Rob, Dad, Sandy, the boys and sharing with her a great deal. Thank you, Kelly. Until the next time then.
Then came dinner. Kelly made an Italian sausage on the barbecue, salads, baked beans, pie, Italian cookies and many other things. It was all delicious and if you walked away hungry it was certainly your own fault. The meal was incredible. I seat hoped as much as possible to catch up with everyone I could. Once I finished eating, I spent more time with dad, looking at photos and talking about our lives. I shared with him how special Friday was for me and how I will never forget the time shared with him. I hope he knows how amazing and important that was to me. Thanks, Dad!
As with all good things they have to come to an end or at least a conclusion, as it was by no means an ending. Somewhere about 10:30 p.m., all of the Bauth's, Daly's, Steve and I had to set sail. Kelly and Rob were trying to put their home back together, Steve and I would head to Toronto for the last day of our trip, Michael and Jen would head home to North Carolina early the next morning, David and Lorna needed to get the little ones home to bed and dad and 'mom' needed to get some much deserved and needed rest. It had been a highly emotionally charged weekend for all of us and now it was time to take it all in on our own, as each of us said our very long 'Bauth goodbyes,' I could see the smile, feel the love and I knew that we all enjoyed the miracle that had unfolded before us.
On the drive home with Michael and Jen, we had more good conversation with each other. We talked about what is next for all of us, how much we enjoyed the time we did have with each other, that our mutual homes are open for visits and closed with loving hugs and farewells once we arrived at dad and 'mom's. Now, don't get me wrong, I have always had a beautiful family with Steve, all of the kids, Jim Bob and Trina, but it was my first time, in a very long time, if ever, feeling the power in the bond and love of a big family.
So when I look at the photo above of my new family, some of them are missing in the photo, but not in my heart, I would like to share this very simple message for everyone in my family, blood or otherwise; In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.