EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an exercise in self-flagellation we bloggers inflict upon ourselves to teach us discipline as writers and to build audience. During the month of April, I’ll be posting 26 times, once for every letter in the alphabet. Looking on the bright side, we can each be thankful this is an English language exercise and not Khmer, the language of Cambodia, which sets the world record with a 74-character alphabet! After some misgivings, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial idea of blogging about the special people in my life whose names begin with the appropriate letter. There will be difficulties, like having more than one special person whose names begin with the same letter, forcing me to choose. And then there are those letters — O, Q and X among them — where no name springs readily to mind. What will I do then? We’ll have to wait and see!
T is for Tori
I have just one sister that you read about yesterday, and in our house growing up, quiet was the rule. So it was quite a shock when I got married to a woman with four sisters and one brother.
Get-togethers at Mary’s parents’ house were usually noisy affairs, especially when my new brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, and all their children were there, along with my own kids.
For the longest time I felt simply overwhelmed by it all, and would retreat to the quietest place I could find, content to let the noise and activity swirl around me. I wasn’t an extrovert, and even though I’ve been a part of that family for 38 years, I think that’s still the case.
Maybe that’s why I was so grateful to my niece, Tori, who gravitated to me in her early years while I sat alone on the sofa. Perhaps it was preordained that we would be close because I had been named Tori’s godfather when she was born.
Tori was a master of the Tickle Me/Don’t Tickle Me Game, but usually her godfather got the instructions wrong and would tickle her when she said “Don’t Tickle Me!” and vice-versa. It might have been confusing to anyone watching, but made perfect sense to us, and much hilarity ensued.
But it was on one of the sadder occasions of my life that Tori did something that truly cemented my love for her. When my mother died, Tori approached me during the viewing, with a picture drawn in crayon.
I can’t remember the picture exactly, probably because my eyes were blinded with tears. But I do remember what it said. In a child’s lettering, it read, “I love you Betty.”
Most people think the benefits of a godparent-godchild relationship as working only in one direction, but it was little Tori who helped me that day. Together, we walked to my mother’s casket, and we placed her little drawing inside, where it will stay for eternity.
My selection as godfather was a curious one, as I’m probably the most ungodly uncle Tori has. I take my role seriously, however, but more in a Michael Corleone sense than having anything to do with religious instruction. Tori’s boyfriends better know that if they ever hurt her in any way, I’ll be on the next plane, ready to mop up whatever small bits of them her father leaves behind.
Now a student at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, Tori lives far away, but I was on hand just last year, and had the pleasure of bestowing my blessing upon her, buying her very first legal Shiner Bock.
It’s the least The Godfather could do.