Currently I’m not at home so the picture I’d like to accompany this is out of reach. However if I do my job right, that will be unnecessary.
Growing up in a house with nine kids pretty much assured a few things in life:
1. Without debate, you were wearing hand-me-downs.
2.The only quiet place (in the house) was the upstairs bathroom-away from all the commotion (and cleaning) downstairs.
3. You always shared a bedroom with at least one other person.
4. You were blessed with an opportunity to develop a close and personal relationship with the other eight children; regardless the age differences and bedroom placement.
My sister Ann Marie, five years my senior, by virtue of birth placement, had the “pleasure” of sharing the same bed (for a while) and bedroom with her little-or as she prefers; her “baby” sister (me) from the moment I was kicked out of the crib (due to yet another child born) until she turned eighteen, declared her independence and moved out.
Sharing the bedroom with my big sister had it’s ups and downs. Ups, like at night when we would take turns scratching one another’s backs before bedtime, even though she would always want to go first and then pretend to fall asleep while I scratched. Or the time an incense stick smoldering in a can gave off a mosquito attracting smell, thus helping a swarm of mosquitoes find a small hole in our bedroom window screen and declare us dinner for the night. While that may sound like a downer, we became closer, sisters in arms, while swatting those devious insects for both our common good.
The worst thing Ann Marie ever did to me was come home from the bars late one night while I was in high school and yell, “Marsha you’re late for school, you’re going to miss the bus!!” Not looking at the clock, I jumped from bed, ran down two flights of stairs to the shower in our basement and quickly washed my hair–because there was no way I would go to school with dirty hair. When I came back into the room, a towel wrapped around my wet head, there she sat on her bed, laughing. “What’s so funny?” I asked her. “Look at the clock…” She said before climbing into bed and yelling for me to turn off the lights. Looking over at the clock radio, the time read 2:30 am.
I was not a happy camper and probably used profane language to express my extreme displeasure with her. But a million years later, we both laugh at the nature of the beast…growing up with instant best friends and pranksters.
I wish I could say the worst thing I ever did to my sister was something so inane, but over the years I’ve opened my blunt mouth and said some pretty terrible things I wish I could take back. She always finds a way to forgive me, but I’m sure there is some wariness in there too. I wish I could erase those moments when I felt small and lashed out. They were never about her, always about my own insecurities and my inability to face them.
Today is Ann Marie’s birthday. This morning I mentioned to the doll that she should give Aunt Ann a call and she replied, “Mom, I know it’s her birthday…” I smiled, Aunt Ann Marie has become as special to my kids as she is to me. I can’t thank God enough for giving me a best friend right off the bat, who’s taught me the importance of friendship, love and caring for those you do and for her showing my kids that importance too.
Happy Birthday Ann Marie, I love you.