The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Bill Eggert

February 1, 2011

BILL EGGERT | Nice to have a niece

— My poor mom; her frequent lament when her three sons were growing up was that she never had a daughter.

I tried to console her by reminding her that she had two adopted daughters: Inky and Holly, our two family pooches, but to no avail.

Personally, I wish I did have a sister. I could have used the insider information on how the female mind worked when I started dating. I eventually gave up trying to figure out that eternal conundrum.

A little more than 21 years ago, my mom did welcome a granddaughter into the Eggert family, and what an addition she was: Cute, smart and personable.

She has been a cheerful light at any family function.

Her name is Amanda Marie, but her older brother Timmy had trouble with her name when she was born, so he called her “Dee” and the name stuck with her, much like my family name “Denny.” (I was born William Dennis, and the “fam” called me Denny, so as not to confuse me with my dad and granddad, who were also named Bill).

Living in Atlanta during Dee’s childhood, I had only seen her during my annual summer and Christmas vacations. Like any good uncle, I liked to tease my niece.

Dee named her favorite doll “Lumpy” as a small child.

Lumpy was a sort of yellowish cloth teddy bear. Dee was fiercely loyal to Lumpy, even when Lumpy became well-worn.

Her parents bought her a new, identical Lumpy to replace the old one, but Dee promptly banished “Lumpy II” to the toy box, with the original Lumpy still her eternal BFF (Best Friend Forever, for those not hip to text lingo).

I used to tease Dee about Lumpy, asking her if I could borrow Lumpy when I left, so when my plane flew over her home in Richland (as I flew back to Atlanta) I would throw Lumpy out of the plane so it would land in her backyard.

Dee was horrified at the prospect, and refused my kind offer. It never occurred to her that a plane departing Greater Pittsburgh Airport would actually detour

80 miles east over Johnstown on its trip south to Georgia.

There was a movie out at that time called “Throw Mama from the Train,” and I told Dee that we could make a new movie called “Throw Lumpy from the Plane.”

Needless to say, Dee was not amused …

Fast-forward to 2011, and Dee will be graduating from Pitt-Oakland in the school’s medical program this spring.

She has also been a Pitt cheerleader all four years, and her family is very proud of the beautiful, bright and dedicated young woman she has grown into.

Like any girl her age she has her faults (inexplicably she is a Lady Gaga fan) but then, nobody is perfect. She also has a weakness for Vera Wang clothing, but then, what female her age doesn’t?

If there is one thing that has rocked my world it would be how fast my niece and nephew have grown up. The hardest thing is to realize that they are adults, while I have memories of them as kids that seem like only yesterday.

One day several years ago, I was visiting my brother at his home. We heard crying coming from the kids’ room, and rushed in to see what was the matter.

Entering their room, my brother consoled my nephew, while I consoled 2-year-old Dee as she stood in her crib.

As she held onto me sobbing I felt her warm tears on my shoulder. I doubt if Dee even remembers the incident, but I will never forget that memory of comforting her.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident.

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