When I was a couple of years too old to climb onto Santa’s lap with a wish-list, I did just that. All I wanted was a baby sister. That’s all I thought about; that’s what I tacked on the end of my bedtime prayers, right after “bless Mom, Dad, Deanna-Bonita-Vickie-Loren-Julie-Frankie. I already had four sisters and two brothers. Why, oh why, did I want more? Of course Santa can’t deliver babies, but I like to think my prayers and wishes were responsible for planting a seed of a new miracle, because nine months after Christmas, I had my baby sister. I still like to think of her as my personal gift from God.
Mom brought another sweet bundle home and told us her name was Marcia. Aunt Pat said “Oh my. Don’t you know Marsha means swamp water?” Aunt Pat was the tallest woman I knew. Just being tall made her look like she was smarter than everyone, because the only way she could see me was to look down. Aunt Pat married to my Uncle Ken, Mom’s baby brother. He was way up there, even taller than Aunt Pat. Those two looked like movie stars with sharp haircuts and starched-crisp clothes that hung on their trim bodies like they were born wearing them. My clothes were special made, but I was always wrinkled and spilling things.
“Her name is Marcia,” Mom said pressing her lips together so her smile was a thin line. Her bottom eyelids did a little pulse up; the second sign she was holding back some amount of anger, even though she had a smile painted on. “Marcia means Fearless.” Aunt Pat laid her silk-smooth fingertips on top of Mom’s hands. Mom’s hands looked more like Grandma’s than Aunt Pat’s; the kind that could pick raspberries, and make applesauce, and brush up a pony-tail that would stay put all day long.
Marcia was Bonita’s pal when we were little girls, that’s because Frankie was my pal; Frankie started the pal-business. Marcia had hair the color of a silver Palomino’s mane, only curly like Shirley Temple’s. Marcia had eyes the color of chestnuts, almost as dark as Bonita’s. Marcia loved horses, just like Bonita did, and Bonita taught Marcia all about how to take care of something she loved so much. Still, Marcia was my gift. I could share; everyone in my family knew how to share, that’s what made my family run smooth.
Marcia was tiny and quiet like a sweet little field mouse. Her name got morphed from Marcia to Marcie to Minni Mouse, to Mousie, to Moosie. Moosie stuck. One day, I found Moosie crying, because she believed everyone thought she looked like a Moose.
“No, no, that’s not why you’re call Moosie,” I tried to explain. “That name stuck, because it’s so ironic.” I was almost in high school my then. I knew lots of big words about words, like oxymoron, and onamonapia, and alliteration, because I liked words and words about words were the very best words. “You’re so tiny and cute, a Moose is the last thing anyone would think of to describe you.”
Marcia turned those chestnut eyes up at me, all shiny-wet with tears. “I thought it was because of my big teeth,” she said between quivery lips, so her voice came out like a bubbly whisper.
“What big teeth?” I studied her mouth, because I never thought about her teeth; Marcia was the sweetest little thing I ever saw, with those big brown eyes, and soft angel-hair curling all around her tiny ears, and down over her forehead. “You just have grown up teeth in a little girl’s mouth.” I was pretty sure about that, because everybody’s permanent teeth looked big when they first got them. “Pretty soon, you’ll have a perfect smile, just like mine.” The dentist said I had a perfect bite. It was super to know that there was something perfect about me. And here was my perfect little Marcia worried about the one thing that was no problem for me and I never even had to think about for one second of my time.
Marcia let her breath out in one long stuttery sigh and hugged me tight. The aroma of Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo drifted up all around me; that smelled better than chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. That was the best feelings in the world.
I never thought of Moosie as anything but a nickname, I never even thought of it as calling her a Moose. From then on it was Marcia or Marcie, all the way.
Marcia is all grown up with perfect smile and a heart spilling over with love. She has a special knack for recognizing love all around her, even in the most common of experiences. Here’s a scan of one of the note cards she made, with the quote she put inside. She sure is one special gift from God; almost makes me want to climb on Santa’s lap again!
Happy Birthday, Marcia.