Baby You’re a Firework

Mom told me she loved the fireworks when she was a little girl: she and her brothers and Grandma and Grandpa, of course they weren’t grandparents then, sat on a blanket and watched with ooo’s and aaahh’s for each new explosion. Fireworks were low on my list of priorities when I was a little girl. One year I found out why, and I longed to repeat that experience.

My great-aunt Anna was somehow related to Dad. She was nothing like anyone else in Dad’s family; Aunt Anna was tallish, and skinny, and she had dark hair. Those were all things that were different from the soft shapes and colors of Grandma and Dad’s brothers and his one sister, but that wasn’t the main difference. Aunt Anna was pinched looking, like my mouth felt after sucking lemons. I loved that feel, first all sour, then like my whole mouth felt cleaned out and waiting for something new. Aunt Anna had that look, like she got all puckered up with something sour, and she would do anything to keep something new from getting in. Her lips were all puckered in like Mom’s got when she was holding in a mad feeling. Aunt Anna’s clothes were always dark and straight and she wore those kinda shoes that I only saw on teachers. Come to think of it, she kinda looked like a teacher.

When I was a little girl, I loved grown-ups, ’cause I could almost always make them laugh or at least smile. I liked to climb right up on a grown-up’s lap and sing this one special song that ended with ‘pull down your pants and slide down the ice.’ I forget the rest, but that last part always made grown-ups’ face look a tinsy bit like a balloon blowing up, with their necks getting taller, their eyes getting big with eyebrows shooting straight up, and their mouths going in a big ‘O’ until a big giant laugh came out like a happy shout. For sure, I would get a big hug and some nice comment like “You’re such a firecracker.” I was the most wonderful kid in Continue reading

Who’s That You’re Calling Big, Buster?

I never thought much about how I looked, whether I had friends, if I could throw a ball, or how smart I was when I was a little girl.  I just walked straight up to kids and said, “do you wanna be my friend?”  Anybody with an arm could throw a ball, and I was one smart little girl, everybody said so.  As for looks, well, I never much looked at myself, except to brush my teeth, so I never really considered whether I looked, one way or another.  That changed somewhere between being a little girl and being a grown up woman.  Somewhere around 6th or 7th grade, my focus on me began to cause great doubt.

Once I asked Mom, “What would you do if you had an ugly kid?”

She gave me that quizzical look of hers that always came right before she said something like ‘how do you think up these questions?’  This time she said out-loud, “I never gave it much thought.  All my kids are beautiful.  Why would I have an ugly kid?”

Deanna and Me

“Well, just pretend,” I said.  “What Continue reading

Wise Men, Circumcision, and Good Advice

Christmas lasted at least two weeks when I was a little girl.  First came the parties and presents, then Baby Jesus and the shepherds, then the Feast of the Circumcision and the Wise Men, then a dream that takes the Holy Family into Egypt, so he didn’t get killed by a scaredy-cat king. What an exciting story.  Maybe Jesus got born in the middle of winter just to liven things up a bit, because after Christmas things got pretty darned dull.

Do you know that song that says, “Mother Mary, meek and mi-i-ild..”?   She was far from mild.  She stepped right into the temple and named her baby, even though that was the dad’s job and she was supposed to stay out, on account of just having a baby.  Plus her baby was a boy, which meant he got to be circumcised, which was a special thing only for boys on the day they’re named.  That happened eight days after birth, ’cause for one thing it took a long time for most people to pick out just the right name, and for another thing, those special circumcising guys were hard to come by.

Mom always said, “A smart woman let her husband think he’s in charge.”  Not Mary.  Continue reading

Baby Frankfurter

Mom was always expecting some baby or another, when I was a little girl.  My friend Diann said that her mom said she knew it was spring, ’cause my mom was having another baby.  Deanna rolled her eyes and turned all red when I told her, but I liked it.  I was going to have eleven children, when I grew up, then I would have lots of help, just like Mom did.

Mom and Dad had a heck of a time picking out names for kids.  Deanna never did get officially named until she was sixteen.  She found out about that when she got her birth certificate for her driving permit.  Boy oh boy, was she mad, when she read “baby girl” on the line where the first name belonged.

“I guess I can pick out any name I want,” she said, with one hand on her hip and that birth certificate wagging in the other and her hair all up in curlers so she could get it ratted up high like the girls on American Bandstand.  Continue reading