A Sweet Smile of Approval

December 5, 2019
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A Sweet Smile of Approval

As for most kids, change seemed to be a constant. My change was moving about the country
every four years or so. New states, new towns, new schools. Don’t get me wrong, we moved
from suburbia to suburbia and were blessed each time with a clean slate on clean streets in
quaint surroundings. I had no hardship to speak of other than pimples and prom dates.

And then there was Auntie Carolyn.

I would need 64 blogs to walk through the dynamics surrounding our immediate and extended
family. Who wouldn’t? Of course, this was before Instagram when all families
became perfect in pictures and poses. Perfection in my reality was not cropped, edited and
filtered. When we were joyous it was for us and when we cried, we did so sans selfies.

And then there was Auntie Carolyn.

Little League was not the Big League.
High school sports meant something.
And parents were silent on the sidelines.

I found soccer. I also found ice hockey, hiking, swimming, skiing and a prom date after
all. I found that growing up was growing beyond high school and that the world was bigger than
a State Championship season. Simsbury High turned into Hanover as the leaves of New England
turned to rose.

And then there was Auntie Carolyn.

You see, I write now as an aged man about a soothing soul. From birth to Barcelona and every
stop along the way, I have had Auntie Carolyn cheering me on. A note, a card, a photo. Not too
much these days as my journey has led me far from Hank’s Bakery in Stoneham. Her journey
kept her close to Beantown and close to my heart. She is that kind and that courageous and
that caring.

And I know now that soccer is about Auntie Carolyn. Literature and libraries are about Auntie
Carolyn. Love lost, rebirth and resilience are about Auntie Carolyn. Cupcakes and cousins. Every
achievement of mine rests in a smile of hers. She is the only family member still alive of the
generation that nurtured me. Nanny and Grampa, Nana and Grampy, Mom and Dad, and Uncle
Joe have long since moved onward from frosted donuts and frosty streets.

And then there is Auntie Carolyn.

She knows where I am. She understands why I teach. Why I coach. Why I love exploring the
bounds of human potential. And each time I venture for venturing’s sake I know there is a
woman with a peaceful perspective praying for me. I have an advocate. I have someone who
sees the best of me and sees safety in the stars.

I have an Auntie Carolyn and have for my entire life.

I hope that each child may be so lucky. Love without judgment. Pride without prejudice. Pure
advocacy. Perhaps each of us needs to see consistency, continuity and coherency manifested.

Perhaps, in the end, each of us needs a sweet smile of approval.

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