Dear Future Stella,
Your Uncle Ricky just left to go back to Florida after visiting California for a week. Technically, he’s MY Uncle Ricky but I’m letting you borrow the name until we come up with something slightly more interesting than Great Uncle Ricky for you to call him. I kinda like “Gur” but as you get older, a young girl saying that to a much older male relative might get strange.
He used to be our closest (geographically speaking) family member until a year ago when he moved to Florida. Now he’s one of the farthest. He’s my Dad’s baby brother and we have always been close. Maybe because I’m also the baby in my family, but I seem to gravitate towards the youngest members of families as the people I connect with. My mom’s baby sister (My tante, your G-Ta) is hands down the closest person to me (besides the peeps in my immediate family). I married the baby of his family. My two best friends are both youngest children. We just all get eachother. There is something really unifying about being the spoiled little angles that make them easy to surround myself with. To be honest, I am glad I am not having another kid because I fear I will just like that kid more because they will be the youngest. With you being an only, you are going to be both the oldest and the youngest and therefore don’t count. Actually, Gail the puppy is the youngest member of our family and I totally favor her. She can do no wrong and we are connected at the hip. Literally, she lays on my hips as often as possible.
Your, well, actually our Uncle Ricky, spent the night with us two Sunday’s in a row both on his way in and out of California. Last Sunday he came and made us dinner. He used to do this once a month when he lived near us. He’s a phenominal chef, an ex-professional actually. His food is to die for and I have really missed it. As a kid, I have such wonderful memories of going to his restaurant and he would have to make me the most basic, boring meals ever- like plain pasta, while everyone else at the table was feasting on his gourmet specialties. I don’t know who this reminds me of…..hmm, who else do I know that eats bland boring food even when surrounded by culinary excellence? I don’t know, it will come to me. I will also never forget when he ruined Caesar salad for me for life when he told me that all Caesar dressing has anchovies in it. I could still puke in my mouth thinking about how utterly disgusted I was by this little trivia fun fact. It’s funny the things you remember.
Here’s the meal Uncle Ricky made us. Visually it looks so simple, but each and every thing tastes like heaven and his sauces are always out of this world.
Uncle Ricky always comes with little gifts for you and he has always tried really hard to win you over. You are a tough crowd though, and for reasons that I can’t begin to know, you have always taken extra time to warm up to him. You often throw your most epic meltdowns in his presence- this trip being no exception. You also tend to start enjoying his company right around the time it is time for him to leave. This never stops Uncle Ricky from trying and it’s so wonderful for me to witness the great joy you bring to him even though you are a shit stain most of his time with him.
This trip he brought you a coloring book with markers and a floor puzzle that is Frozen themed. He sat with you on the ground and you educated him on who all the princesses are and their names. He was genuinely paying attention. This is a great time to mention that Uncle Rick is a rebel bachelor who wears black leather jackets and drives sports cars. He drinks Jack Daniels and smokes cigars and gambles and plays cards. He doesn’t watch Disney or play princess games but he genuinely tries for you. He wouldn’t miss a birthday or holiday and he cares so much about forming a bond with you. This is a good man Future Stella and I hope you have formed that relationship that he has spent a lot of time fostering, even though he now lives in Florida. When you are a kid it’s up to the adult to make this happen, but you are an adult now so it’s time that you return this gesture. It’s easy to get caught up in your own world and not make time for the older loved ones in your life but this is so important and rewarding. I’m still working on this as an adult.
The next Sunday he came back and it was our turn to make Uncle Ricky dinner. This was his request and I have to admit I was nervous! I wanted to make something that we would all eat but that wasn’t kid food. I also wanted you to participate because I know that would make it extra special for Uncle Rick. We made a chicken stir fry with sugar snap peas, and fresh mint. We served this over rice and for dessert we made a puff pastry with strawberries and homemade whip cream. It was all very yummy and even though we had to seperate out each component of the meal for you to eat it, you did eat the whole thing. You also tried fresh mint for the first time while we were cooking so I had to buy you a toy on Amazon for that. You also tried a French fry at lunch and you got a toy at Walgreens. I’m glad you are draining my bank account buying worthless toys in exchange for trying super nutritious fried foods and other things that are most often garnishes or found in Mojitos and chewing gum. It’s my fault for adding no fine print to the house rule of “If you try a new food then you get a new toy.”
Anyway, the meal was a hit for everyone. The next morning we went to breakfast with Uncle Ricky and walked around the Palace of Fine Arts to feed the ducks before he had to fly back to Florida.
Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, the other night you woke up in the middle of the night complaining about bees being in your room. We obviously told you that you were crazy and just having a bad dream. The next morning you woke up covered, and I mean covered, in mosquito bites. My bad.