Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Watching three brothers grow a privilege

In 1970, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell authored a song, one of whose taglines was, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

How true. But its converse is equally true: that often you don’t know what you’re missing until you’re introduced to it by others.

Both my grandfathers died before I was born, so I never knew or appreciated the value in such a relationship.

But no more – because I have fallen madly in love with my 15-month old grandson Noah. I look forward to seeing him each week, and have actually begun to plan around our visits a bit, anticipating our time together.

The other day, I downloaded a song on my phone that Noah and I could dance to. I’m looking forward to introducing it to him, and having some fun with him and my wife on our next visit.
In like fashion, I never had a brother as I was growing up, although I had a good relationship with my sister.

Likewise, Jan and I raised a son and a daughter, so, although I witnessed a pair of siblings who developed a great relationship with each other and matured into fine people in their own right, I didn’t see in them a relationship among two or more brothers, or sisters for that matter.

But, slowly, I discovered a relationship among three brothers that I have come to enjoy and to appreciate, and I realize that I have begun to look forward to seeing them together.

They are the three sons of our good friend Anne Hassel, with whose family we visit every so often, often vacationing with them at the Atlantic shore.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Anne’s son David was married, and we attended the wedding, tagging along for the rehearsal, the dinner that followed, and the informal family get-togethers that weekend.

It’s great to be invited into a family. When Jan and I moved to Michigan from central New York in 1977, we left behind our ancestral families, whom we still visit twice each year, and share together major rites of passage like graduations, weddings and baby showers.

But we became for 90 percent of our lives a nuclear family, the four of us, reliant mostly on ourselves, but benefiting greatly from the kindness of our friends over the years, who have invited us into their lives and family events.

We have witnessed much love and interesting relationships among these families, but among the family relationships I’ve found most interesting has been among Matt, David and Allen Scalese.
They each have a great sense of humor, and you won’t spend much time among them before you begin laughing.

The humor with each other often teases and pokes, or challenges, as boys and men will often do among themselves. It’s great to watch the interplay of wit and humor among them.
And that accent. It’s like their mother’s – it’s a charming way of speaking whose declarative sentences end up sounding very much like questions, inviting the other to respond, to engage with each other.

And they’re fun not only to listen to, but to watch as well. They’re young, they’re energetic, and they’re witty. On my last visit, their appearance reminded me of the British actor Jason Statham, who has recently imbued alopecia with a masculine toughness.

But, despite the energy, despite the cheekiness with each other and those who would engage in their banter, they are good boys, nay, they are good men.

It’s been a hoot and a privilege to have watched them grow and develop over the years, and much of the credit goes to their mother Anne, who raised three sons and brothers who have allowed me to recognize and at times to experience what I missed in brothers’ relationships as I grew up.

Gerald LaVaute is a staff writer for Heritage Newspapers. He can be reached at or call 1-734-429-7380. Check out our staff blog at


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