June 14, 1996 was a gorgeous day in Washington, DC, where I and my husband of a little more than a year lived. We had met there four years before at a New Year’s Eve party; had gotten married; and were about to have our first child ( I was 35 when we met; not a lot of time to waste). We knew we were having a boy, and he was to be named for my grandmother, who was born Helen Duffy. I had always wanted to name a boy Duffy, even though I had never really had a strong urge for children. My friends teased me that I could never marry anyone of Italian heritage (Duffy Mastricolo?) and when I told them about meeting Justin, their immediate response was “Duffy Byrne. Has a nice ring to it!”
Nana was alive then, and she could not get her head around this. “His first name is Duffy? Really? Well, it’s a nice name. It’s my name, you know.” Um, yes, Nana. I did know that.
On that beautiful June 14, after we made it through the street fight between cabdrivers from various African countries that blocked our route to the hospital; after two epidurals; after both of us surviving my husband’s decision to eat a tuna sub for dinner; and after a round of projectile vomiting unrelated to the tuna sub, Duffy was here. It was very late, just before midnight. The next morning, I woke early to my mom and my nana and my aunt walking into the hospital room, having taken the 6AM flight from Boston, each carrying little American flags. Duffy was born on Flag Day, after all.
I can’t say if it feels like forever ago or just yesterday. Both, I guess. The first six months of his life were the longest of mine: He cried and cried, and slept only sporadically. Me, too. But once he was successfully Ferberized (still so grateful, Kristen!), he was a joy–incredibly funny and smart. He has only become funnier and smarter, and more and more handsome every day.
Nana would love him. I can picture her throwing her arms around his waist, her head barely reaching his shoulder, and laughing at something he said.
Happy Flag Day! Happy 16th birthday to our incredible son!
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