The family has been blessed with a new addition: Owen Patrick Coughlin, born last night. His mom is my sister-in-law Robin and his dad is my brother-in-law Tim. This is a letter to my new nephew. He won’t be able to read or understand it for several years, but hopefully it’ll serve him well when he’s ready.
Today’s mood music is for the new parents:
I’m you’re Uncle Bill, the one who’s going to show affection by teasing you a lot. I’ll do my best not to go too far. I listen to really loud and offensive music. I just can’t wait to expose you to that.
Your cousins have been eagerly awaiting your arrival. Sean, Duncan and Madison are going to love having you around. It won’t be long before the four of you are racing around my house, trashing the place. Your cousins Duncan and Madison are kind of like Godzilla and Tokyo when they’re together. Once I caught them trying to roll one of the living room side tables up the stairs. I usually put my coffee on that table, so I was not amused. At the same time, I loved their cleverness and went in the other room to laugh once I was done lecturing them on why rolling a table up a flight of stairs is a dumb idea.
Sean’s more reserved than that, but he’s already declared that you’re his boy. Expect to learn everything there is to learn about Legos and Star Wars.
You’re going to love your aunts. All three are amazing women who have been through a lot. They’re going to be a constant presence in your life, and you’re going to be better for it. Aunt Erin, my wife, literally saved your Uncle Bill’s life. Your uncle went through a lot of dark periods and she’s the one who brought him to a better place. She’s going to help you gain a love of books, and as you get older she’ll be the one who you’ll go to when you need school papers edited. Aunt Sara is going to be the one who cuts your hair and takes you on trips to the local farm with Madison and, many times, the boys, in tow. You’ll have a lot of fun sleep-overs in her house, too. Aunt Amanda is the youngest among us adults, and she’s very handy with the camera. She’s going to be your personal photographer. She’s also going to make you laugh a lot.
You have loving grandparents on both sides of the family, and Grandpa Bob is going to teach you a lot about cars, especially the older models. Grandma Sharon is a quiet, steady presence who brings peace and calm to wherever she is. That’s a quality you won’t often find in people, and trust me: You’re going to learn to appreciate it. Expect to go on many camping trips with them. Try to go easy on them. 😉
I’ve known your parents for a very long time, and I can tell you that you are one lucky kid. Both have gentle personalities and lots of love and patience. When your computer breaks, your dad will fix it easily. When you’re upset and in need of comfort, your mom will help you along. Both of them will. You’re in good hands. Your mom has a lot of your grandma in her personality. Did I mention that you’re one lucky little man?
Life won’t be easy. You’ll go through plenty of ups and downs. But let me share a little secret with you: The key to getting through the down periods with your overall happiness intact is to simply recognize up front that life is supposed to be hard. It’s what helps us grow. And there’s no such thing as never having a care in the world. Some folks still reach for that state of mind and they’re almost always crushed when reality fails to meet their expectations.
If you want, I can help you navigate through that stuff. I’ve developed some coping skills along the way. You’re going to screw up along the way. Don’t worry about it. We all do.
One more thing, my young friend: If you ever want to do something big in life and those around you tell you it can’t be done, ignore them. You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. That’s a cliche of a statement, but it’s the truth.
As I write this you’re only a few hours old. Sean and Duncan can’t contain their excitement and we’re all dying to meet you. I’m looking forward to that.
You’re going to be great, kid. Welcome home.
–Uncle Bill, March 18, 2011, 7:30 a.m.