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Our weekend with Mr. Nice Guy June 14, 2010

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.

My friend Frank joined Austin and me to enjoy the view of New York City from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Excited about the opportunity to take a bite of the Big Apple, Austin had long been anticipating our most recent getaway. And while I looked forward to introducing him to New York City, there was another introduction on tap that was entirely more meaningful to me.

“Frank is the nicest guy in the world,” I said as we made our way east on the Thruway. I was describing my friend Frank Battaglia, who lives in Northern New Jersey and would be our host for the weekend.

“I don’t think I could live here.”

It was hardly the first time Austin had heard me talk about Frank, who I first met in 1982—within hours after we both arrived at St. John Fisher College to begin our freshman year. My friendship with Frank has been unwavering ever since, but geography tends to keep us from seeing each other more than a few times a year. For that reason, this would be his first chance to meet my son.

Early last year, when I first decided to move ahead with the idea of adopting a child, Frank was among the very few people to whom I confided my plans. Like me, Frank has never married. But unlike me, adoption has not been a consideration. While supporting my decision, he would later confess that, initially, he “didn’t get it.” But after I had identified Austin and began the process of building a relationship with this young man, Frank started to share my excitement. In many ways, he became my greatest source of encouragement.

After arriving at Frank’s and greeting him at the doorstep, he wasted little time in throwing his arms around Austin, telling him, “I’ve been waiting a long time to do this.” Austin smiled widely, and I could tell he felt immediately at ease.

We had dinner at home that evening while Frank quizzed Austin about his new life in Rochester—school, his job at Wegmans, and what I was like as a driving coach. I’ll spare you details on the latter.

It was great meeting Frank's girlfriend Elaine, who served as our tour guide.

On Saturday, Frank’s girlfriend Elaine joined us for a full afternoon of touring Manhattan. Elaine obviously knows her way around the city and agreed to serve as our guide. First stop—the Empire State Building, including a panoramic view of the surrounding area from the observation deck on the 86th floor. That experience never gets old! After lunch, we hit Times Square and then ended our day exploring the area around Ground Zero.

Although enjoying the sites and sounds of the concrete jungle, Austin conceded, “I don’t think I could live here.” This country boy from Kentucky was clearly sorting through a dose of culture shock.

After returning to the house in New Jersey, Austin grabbed an energy drink from the refrigerator and then made his way to the home office where Frank had made accommodations for the kid to set up his PlayStation console. Our host was determined to make sure Austin felt right at home, and the down time certainly gave Frank and me some additional time to visit.

Following breakfast on Sunday, it was time to gather our things and make the trip home. Frank and Austin had clearly become fond of each other, and Austin had no problem telling him so. “Paul was right about you,” he said as they embraced goodbye.



1. Frank Battaglia - June 15, 2010

Well, it’s a good thing no one can see me as I type this because I’m currently a very vibrant shade of red. I appreciate the kind words, Paul and I’m glad that you and Austin were able to make it down for the weekend. It was a great to finally meet your delightful son! The dynamic and banter between the two of you is fun to witness and you’re both very fortunate to have each other in your respective lives. The bond you share is something pretty darn special.

I’ve been *extremely* blessed to have you as a friend and now I feel doubly blessed to know Austin too!

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