January 10, 2011
Great Uncles and Great Aunts
I was fortunate to have known and loved a great aunt and a great uncle. These two individuals were great in their own terms, because they were dynamic, active politically and intellectually. I have dedicated a posting to both Saeb and Ambara Salaam, both of whom I was close to.
My children are very fortunate to have young great uncles and aunts, with whom they have grown close. My eldest son visited with my paternal aunt in Beyrouth recently. She is my father's younger sister. They immediately had chemistry, their love of golf bringing them together. He already loved her for all the memories I've shared of her with him. I had told him how caring she always was. She bought me my first walkman, and I still fondly remember our trip to the London Zoo when we stayed at her house one summer.
In Dubai, my kids live surrounded by their great- uncles and great-aunts. My oldest maternal uncle always gifted my kids with the nicest Christmas presents. He also often joins in for the impromptu violin concert at my house and my kids appreciate the interest he takes in them. My uncles are down to earth and athletic, teaching the eldest volleyball and generally being amazing role models to my kids. My son brags to his friends that his great-aunt and uncle kite-surf and that his great-aunts play polo and that one is a champion fencer. How many other kids can say that about their great aunts and uncles?
It is strange to even call my two aunts in Dubai "great-aunts" as they are athletic, beautiful, glamorous and dynamic. My eldest son once told his teacher about one of them: "when I grow up, I want to be as successful as my great aunt, who heads the Civil Aviation in Dubai." I am proud that his role model is a woman! My youngest maternal aunt, they nickname "super mom" because she is always taking them somewhere exciting, whether it is Cirque de Soleil, Ski Dubai, Swimming/Volley Ball or to the Dubai Mall. Her younger children, my own cousins, are my children's age. She packs them all in her very fast and glamorous car and takes off with them.
Unfortunately, not all of my great uncles and aunts live close to us in Dubai. The twin brother of "the super-mom great aunt" lives in San Francisco, but my kids had the opportunity to get to know him on our winter break. No sooner had he given a bear hug to my kids, that he wrestled the eldest to the floor and immediately broke the ice! Then he took that same son's eye glasses off, asked for some Windex and wiped them clean for him.
Above is a lovely photo of my nephew with his own great-uncle, on my paternal side. He visited him in Beyrouth recently for the first time. Notice the beautiful front door of the traditional Lebanese villa. They barely know each other but you can already perceive the intimacy. The picture says it all: the apple never falls far from the tree!