Well, I thought and thought and thought about what to get for you for your fortieth birthday. I considered buying a bunch of goofy stuff like reading glasses and Depends and a large print book with a cute little diddy about what a pleasure it is to have you join the ranks of the “Over-the-hill-gang” but that just didn’t seem right because there is nothing over-the-hill about you. So instead I thought I would skip the card and the attempt to figure out something to get for you that would be meaningful when I know you either don’t have room for it or it would just be something else for you to dust or figure out how to “store” just in case I ever visit and you don’t want to hurt my feelings.
So, I took a walk down memory lane and jotted a few things down figuring that if I sent you a letter and told you all that you mean to me and have meant to me in the past forty years maybe you would shed a tear, laugh a little, remember something that you had forgotten (that happens when you’re 40), or just know how much I love you.
I want to thank you for probably the only happy memories I have from my childhood. I remember, vaguely, when Mom was pregnant with you and all of the silly things she told us about “the baby”. I also remember the first time I looked into your bassinet. You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Of course, I hadn’t seen too many babies at that point in my life, but I have seen a few since, had a few too, you still were the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I remember watching you grow and thinking there weren’t enough hours in the day for me to do all of the things I had to do and spend the time I wanted to spend with you. Sometimes I just watched you. Sometimes I held you and rocked you and made you those chocolate milk bottles or the hot tea bottles. It’s kind of odd when you think about giving a baby hot tea with milk and sugar in a bottle, but you loved them. I read to you for hours and hours. I know you were smart but that didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was that you wanted to be with me. You never tired of the time we spent sitting rocking and reading.
I probably was jealous of you when I was a little girl but I don’t remember that. I only remember good things about when you were little. I remember all of the time you got to go flying with Daddy and Mom. I remember that you got to spend a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa by yourself. Somewhere Mom has cassette recordings of you and Grandpa talking, more like jabbering when you were about 4, which would have been right before he died. Mom probably could still listen to them and tell you what you were saying. I remember hearing them when I was about 25 and couldn’t understand a word you were saying. I do know this though, you were using words way beyond that of a 4-year old.
Something you probably don’t know is I have always suspected that you are the reason “Uncle” George stopped the little “games” he played with me. It wasn’t long after you were born that he and “Aunt” Benita moved away. I think she knew all along and when you came along she just couldn’t stand to think he would have another “victim” so she gave him an out and shortly after they moved away they were divorced. She moved back down south and he, well I don’t know what happened to him. Last I knew he was in some old hippie wanna-be rock-and-roll band that didn’t go anywhere.
I missed you so much when I was away at college and you were busy going from being a little girl to being a teenager. I feel like I missed a lot in those years but Mom did keep me somewhat up-to-date on what was happening in your life as far as school was concerned and 4-H.
I look back at your school pictures and see the amazing difference between when you were 13 and 16 and WOW! It scares me to think how much my Trisha is going to change in the next few years. I can’t keep up with her, she pushes and pushes all the time.
Anyway, I can reminisce on dates, your high school graduation day. Remember how cute Dunne’ was dressed? Karen had made her cute little dress and bonnet. You, stunning, as usual. People that are as smart as you are aren’t supposed to be equally beautiful. It just isn’t fair to ordinary people.
Then came your Army days. I will never forget the night I got that phone call telling me that you and Rich had gotten married. I think it was about 3 a.m. North Carolina time. First of all I was jealous that you were in the Army because I was told by our parents that if I joined the military I would be disowned. Believe me, there have been days that I truly believe it would have been worth it.
How many visits? How many phone calls? How many sister-to-sister talks have we had to work out or just vent marital issues?
I think about the heartbreak you suffered when you and Rich split up and am so glad that I could be there for you. I hope you will find happiness again some day, you deserve to happy and feel fulfilled (in that way).
As I have watched you grow I have felt so many things: I have been jealous of your freedom to be what you want to be and do what you want to do. You don’t have anyone “needing” you all of the time. I have loved you immensely, if it were possible for a 7-year old to think of a little sister as her own baby, I guess I did you. You were mine, and I wanted to be with you whenever I could (except of course if we were playing baseball). I have been proud of you more times than I can remember. I have been embarrassed by you, like the time I came to visit you at Ft. Bragg and went to have a glass of O.J. to find out that it wasn’t orange juice at all, but a pitcher of Fuzzy Navels. You have given me more than I can ever thank you for and I know that you have made a positive impact in this world in ways that I will never know. I remember your stuffed cow and your Michael Jackson glove. I remember you coming home drunk one night when you were 16 and I was 23. I got scolded by Mom because I came in at 12:05 a.m., you rolled in after 3- she didn’t say a thing to you because she figured you were going to pay enough for what you had been doing. That was the first time it dawned on me that you were always going to be treated differently at home and the rules at home were not the same.
Our lives are very different. We have certainly gone in a variety of different ways. I love you, I miss you, I wish I was more like you. I hope that before this life is over for you a moment in time will open your heart to let you see that all of the gifts you have received are from a God who created you and loves you. Because I don’t want to spend my eternity without you because if you could mean this much to me on this miserable spinning globe I cannot image you wouldn’t be missed.
Have a super birthday!