Four months ago the Browning family grew as the first grandchild was born to my brother and sister-in-law, who live in Philadelphia.
Over the months we have kept in contact and watched, via e-mailed pictures and video clips, as little Dennis has grown by leaps and bounds from a tiny baby to a stocky little guy. I've known all these months that I have a nephew, but there is something about being able to hold that boy that really lets it sink in that I am an aunt.
At Christmas-time, I was able to hold my nephew for the first time. A bundle of smiles and giggles, it was great to be able to get to know him at such a young age and experience the joy of a little one.
We packed Dennis around on our adventures in Philadelphia and he was content with being played with, tickled under his chin, changed or fed. Life is so simple at that age.
One of his favorite things, I have learned, is touching things with texture.
He has a little book that has several different textures in it that he likes to touch and feel. Since we have last seen him a few days ago, he has begun really looking at the pages of the books he is reading and feeling all the different textures before he flips the pages himself.
Saying good-bye was difficult. Not just because I don't know when I will see my nephew (and his parents) again, but also because I know I will miss a lot of his growing up. All I have to say is my brother better have his video camera warmed up for things such as his first steps, first words and any other major milestones I will miss.
As an aunt I need to keep up my auntly duties of spoiling Dennis. So far away it's often difficult to do, not knowing what he's already been treated to.
Oh well, it's a tough job, but that's what aunts are for.