Kage Baker loved babies.
You’d think someone who had been baby-sitting (and feeding, and changing, and reading to) smaller kids since she herself was reliably house-broken might have gotten blase about it. But no, Kage was constantly delighted as our friends and family members grew up, formed pairs, and produced brand new people for her to meet.
There have been several marriages among our Faire friends over the years. There have been lapfuls and lapfuls of babies. Kage was a happy Auntie to all of them.
The “auntie system” is a good way of bringing up babies, one successfully used by species as varied as dolphins, wolves, elephants and, yes, human beings. I’ve never been sure of the philosophical underpinnings of the “It takes a village to raise a child” meme – but I do know that the average two-year old requires every spare pair of hands you find, just so parents and offspring all survive the experience. Kage was always proud to be one of those extra pairs of hands.
“I’m a professional Aunt,” she proudly claimed.
Two of our friends got married a few years ago, and started trying for a baby right away. What with one thing and another, their first-born came along just last year – after an unusually long gestation, as he is a chosen child. An adopted child. Watching this process as we did, along with dozens of other anxious friends and relations, Kage and I both realized just how much adopted children are babies who are really, really wanted: his parents went through birth pains for years to achieve this kid.
Kage knew that he was coming, but she died before she knew for sure when: so she left me with all sorts of orders for presents to be bestowed at certain times. I am making sure he gets what his Auntie Kage intended him to have, as various birthdays come along. There are some humdingers due over the next couple of Christmases …
What his parents have chosen to give Kage in return, she never had a chance to learn. But this Sunday, it will be my grateful delight to officiate at the naming ceremony of Alexander Kage Paladini. My glasses will steam up when I cry, but that’s all right – Master Alexander liked to pull ’em off my nose.
Tomorrow I am driving up the summer delirium of I-5, which I always love. High summer in the Central Valley! It’s like nothing else, and a good long drive through the corn fields and salt marshes and orchards and cattle ranges and interwoven dimensions of the San Joaquin Valley is like an E-ticket ride for the soul. It’ll be like driving through Kage’s own mind in a fever-dream. I can hardly wait …
Reports will be made once I reach my destination in the North, and settle down to catch my breath. It’s exhilarating but tiring, speeding along on the narrow interstices between tesseracts and time warps out there.
I have a date to keep with a beautiful blue-eyed boy. And I have orders to sing “Go Down, Ye Blood-Red Roses” to him. As a present from his Auntie Kage.