Our family had not yet fully fathomed my ultra-gorgeous cousin Rowena’s decision to marry that hideously obnoxious TV comedian when the news of her pregnancy reached our disbelieving ears.
My cousin Sofie immediately emailed us a novena to St. Gerard, patron saint of pregnant women to keep Rowena’s pregnancy safe and to keep her baby healthy and preferably, looking like her. I emailed back that we may have to pray to St. Jude, saint of the impossible, for that last bit.
The day Rowena delivered, the entire family flocked to her hospital suite. The room was filled with her parents, uncles, aunts, cousins of assorted shapes, sizes and states of anticipation.
Tita buzzed the nurse’s station, “Is my daughter out of recovery yet, Nurse?”
“No, Ma’m,” the voice replied. “But your granddaughter has been brought to the nursery. You can view her now, if you wish.”
Only stampeding wildebeasts could duplicate the collective sound of our footsteps as we raced to the nursery. Tita wrote her daughter’s married name on a piece of paper and pressed it against the glass for the on-duty nurse to read. The woman nodded her masked head, picked up a tiny pink bundle from the far side of the room and walked toward the viewing glass.
“Ay. She’s so … a little dark.”
“And she’s so … kinda wrinkly.”
“And medyo she’s so … doesn’t look like Rowena.”
No one had the right words.
“Let me see.” Auntie Lina pushed everyone aside.
Auntie Lina was not really my aunt. She’s my father’s aunt; but everyone in family — young and old — called her “Auntie”. Being a seventy-five year old unmarried woman deprived of alternative titles like “mommy” or “grandma”, my cool Auntie Lina did not mind being misnamed.
Auntie looked closely at the baby, her breath leaving moisture on the glass. She turned around to face us and announced in a clear, crisp voice, “Looks like the gene pool needs more chlorine.”