We met in September 1990, but sometimes it feels as though I’ve known him far longer. We started off as colleagues, fellow English teachers–he, a mentor with experience and skills that I admired and strove to emulate. Through the years, Len watched with great care and concern as I negotiated the peaks and valleys of my personal and professional lives, and we became friends. He was at my wedding, and he was on the scene within days of Oscar’s birth.
One late-summer day, as Len, who had since retired, held our sleeping baby, I wryly suggested that perhaps with all his new-found freedom, he might like to babysit Oscar upon my return to work. He said, “Yes!” and the rest was history. Every Wednesday since, Uncle Len has been here for Oscar and Edgar, his rascals. He is patient, kind, has clear expectations, and gets the boys out for fresh air galore. He makes “fruit faces” for lunch and has perfected a recipe for “maple milk” that eludes me. Together, this team of three walks the streets of Newport and has become as much a fixture on America’s Cup Avenue as Len himself.
Oscar and Edgar have been very fortunate in the quality and consistency of care they have received during these early years, and have had a balance of friends and family, men and women to watch over them. And though Oscar will head to Kindergarten next year, and Edgar soon after, and their Wednesdays will look a little different from what they’ve known, we know that the influence Len has had on them will in no small part ensure their success wherever they go. Oscar’s and Edgar’s lives may take them across the country or to the other side of the world, but something tells me they will never be too far from this profoundly and reliably loving presence in their lives.