It wasn’t my good fortune to have children of my own, for which reason I’ve long doted on Lauren, my niece. She’s been popping up in this space at odd intervals since 2006, when I posted as follows:
My niece graduated from high school on Tuesday. I couldn’t be there, but I sent flowers, and spent the evening marveling at how time flies. Only yesterday she was a baby, and now she’s a tall, poised young lady about to go off to college. How can such things be?
I am immensely proud of Lauren Teachout, and of my brother and sister-in-law, who raised her right. Nothing I will ever do in my life will be as difficult—or honorable—as that.
Five years later Mrs. T and I flew out to Smalltown, U.S.A., to be present as Lauren was married to Ryan Dukes, an excellent young man who had already become an honorary Teachout long before he made my niece a full-time Dukes. Since then she’s visited us several times in New York and Florida, and we have never failed to delight in her company, for she is beautiful, smart, and irresistibly likable.
Having moved away from Smalltown four and a half decades ago, I haven’t been nearly as much of a presence in Lauren’s life as I would have wanted, but I’ve done the best I could, and what I said in this space when I took her to a Broadway show two years ago still goes:
Thanks, Lauren, for spending an evening on Broadway with your Uncle Terry. I hope you liked the show, but I’m mainly glad that you wanted to say hello. You are dear to me, as dear as Smalltown, and you will remain so to the end of time.
By then Lauren and Ryan had moved from Smalltown to Houston, a city that seems to suit them both exceedingly well. When she told Mrs. T and me last year that she was expecting her first child, I felt almost as proud as if she were my own daughter, and when I found out last month that I’d be in Houston right around the time that she was scheduled to have her baby, my heart skipped several beats.
It didn’t quite work out that way, but it was close enough for jazz: Lauren gave birth on Wednesday morning to Evelyn Grace Dukes, who weighs seven pounds, is a bit over twenty inches long, and looks like an exquisitely wrought little thimble. She is named after my mother (to whom Lauren was very close) and maternal grandmother, and her birthday falls neatly in between those of myself and Mrs. T, who is four days my junior.
It goes without saying that I’ll be wildly busy as soon as I land in Houston next Thursday morning. Nevertheless, nothing will stop me from driving straight from my first rehearsal at the Alley Theatre to wherever Lauren, Ryan, and Evelyn Grace are, there to dote on the newest member of the extended Teachout family. It isn’t every day that a man becomes a great-uncle!