Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's One More Cute Little Aussie to Visit

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's One More Cute Little Aussie to Visit

Article excerpt

When you are apart from the people and things you love, life often unfolds as a series of snapshots, not as a continuous rolling film.

For grandparents in particular, the lights-camera-action moments can only be experienced by traveling long distances. And that explains why I am just back from Australia, where I grew up and where my daughter Allison, who was born in Pittsburgh, is living my life in reverse. Except the part about writing a newspaper column. She is way too smart for that.

Allison has settled in Sydney with her husband Christopher, who is originally from Boston and is known to everyone as Critter, although he is not really a critter, just unusually quick and feral in his movements. He could do wallaby impersonations if he weren't always leaping about on a surfboard.

Allison and Critter Gilpin are the proud parents of a new baby, Lucy Louise, now 4 weeks old, who joins her little big sister Tillie, now 2 1/2 years old.

Once Lucy was born, the international cute signal went off -- "Cute, cute, cute, calling all grandparents, cute, cute, cute." So we lost no time, traveling 24 hours in the economy cattle class of airplanes from Pittsburgh, to see the new baby, the mother and the surfing wallaby.

And, imagine our surprise, little Lucy was as cute as advertised, although -- as I often say -- it's easy being cute if you are a baby. It's being cute at 66 years old and above that is the challenge. Of course, I am not in the least biased, but Lucy is fluffy cloud cute. Indeed, as I cradled the wee child, an old Beatles song kept playing in my mind, only with a Down Under twist to the lyrics: "Lucy in the sky with Vegemite."

(International-minded readers will recognize that Vegemite is the edible axle grease that Aussies put on their toast to make themselves tough.)

Tillie is good with her new sister, bending down to give her a kiss at every opportunity. Indeed, Papa -- that would be me -- was jealous of this because Tillie, herself a blond, blue-eyed pixie, has become more discriminating about kissing visitors from America, even if closely related. Her mother has taken to calling her Little Miss Attitude. …

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