THE BIRTHDAY GIRL’S ADDRESS

Two score and nine years ago, my mom and dad brought forth on this planet, a new baby, conceived in January or February, and dedicated to the proposition that any child born into a Catholic family must, within a reasonable timeframe, have a sibling.  Thus, the minute I arrived home from the hospital, I already had what my older sister had waited three years for:  a friend.  I don’t recall much about our first meeting, but I’ll bet she peeked through the bars of my crib making silly faces, singing songs, or showing me her toy telephone and urging me to hurry up and start babbling so we could get our money’s worth from AT&T.  She called me a few days ago, and it was one of those rare occasions when the planets aligned and we both had time to talk.  A two-hour phone conversation might sound frivolous or decadent, but when we connect after a long hiatus, that’s how we roll.  We catch up on the day-to-day, spill our news, share our triumphs and tragedies, laugh like crazy, take
a pee break, and laugh some more.  I’m dumbstruck by how much alike we turned out, having had only haphazard contact for the past thirty years.  My solution to a front-loading washer that leaks a bit?  Shove a towel under it.  Her solution to a broken dryer button?  Turn it on and off with a pencil eraser.  Two peas in a pod, I’m telling you.  This seems like a point for nature in the ongoing nature-nurture debate, but don’t forget, we grew up together and shared a bedroom for fifteen years.  Mom would tuck us in and tell us to be quiet and thirty seconds later, we’d be chattering about something of vital importance:  what fourth grade was like, whether Santa Claus was real, what kind of dog we’d get if mom would ever let us have one.  Today, it seems like every kid has their own room.  I’m glad I didn’t because if I had, I’d have missed out on one of life’s greatest treasures.  This poem is dedicated to the world’s best big sister and my very first friend:

LIGHTS OUT

After nighttime prayers were said,
Mom would send us off to bed.

Close your eyes and go to sleep;
no conversation, not a peep!

We’d cover up, lie really still,
and summon every ounce of will

But quickly our resolve would crumble,
cautious whispers turned to mumbles

Jokes and secrets of all sorts,
muffled giggles, squeals, and snorts

The raucous chatter siblings share
drowned out Mom’s footsteps on the stair

but her command to QUIET DOWN!
cut through the din and shook the ground

Instantly, dead silence reigned,
save for the snores my sister feigned

Once satisfied she’d changed her course,
we’d carry on without remorse

On nights we earned a second warning,
talk was tabled until morning

Then, touching hands between our beds,
wordless wishes traded heads

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29 thoughts on “THE BIRTHDAY GIRL’S ADDRESS

  1. pranabaxom November 5, 2017 / 1:14 am

    “Once satisfied she’d changed her course,
    we’d carry on without remorse” – can relate to this very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Oh yeah, PB, as soon as we heard Mom go back down the stairs, the chatter would escalate again. This is turning out to be more universal than I thought. 🙂

      Like

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 10:10 am

      Thanks, Peter. I think those late-night chats bonded us for life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyce Robinson November 5, 2017 / 8:05 am

    A nice one Joan.
    Brought back memories of my sis and I who shared the same bed till I got married.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 10:11 am

      Thanks, Joyce. I bet you two are still close. 🙂

      Like

  3. Tippy Gnu November 5, 2017 / 8:45 am

    I assume it’s somewhere around your birthday, so happy birthday! I can relate to this poem, as I often shared a room with my older brother. It was nearly impossible to keep us quiet also. And then there was the flashlight reading under the covers. I think kids have to completely exhaust themselves before they can fall asleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 10:23 am

      Hey, Tippy! My birthday is actually today. (If you know what a “score” is, keep quiet. I’m hoping no one but Abraham Lincoln can decrypt my riddle.) My sis and I never had conversations like these during the daytime… I think when we became physically still, our minds would start racing a mile a minute and everything we wondered or wished or worried about would come tumbling out. All that staying up late catches up with you; by midlife, you fall asleep watching TV, reading the newspaper, on the treadmill at the gym… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu November 5, 2017 / 11:28 am

        I know what a score is, because I’m about as old as Abraham Lincoln. Falling asleep during the day is one of the few skills people get better at in their retirement years. I’ve occasionally fallen asleep while standing. If only there was some way to make a few extra bucks doing this.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Thanks, Scott. Just a basic little rhyme. Simple, like life was back in childhood. Have a lovely Sunday. I’ll be eating cake–cherry chip, my favorite since kindergarten. 🙂

      Like

  4. Elyse November 5, 2017 / 11:40 am

    Happy birthday! I love the poem.

    I shared a room with my sister Judy for years, too. And yes, the giggling and the talking, how I remember it. Another important thing sharing a room does for kids is teach them how to fight fairly and compromise — both lost arts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 11:50 am

      Thanks, Elyse! Glad the poem brought back fond memories for you. The tiny/small house movement has many benefits, and kids having to share a room is undoubtedly one of them. PS: I have a sister named Judy, too, but she is the youngest of the clan. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 2:54 pm

      Thanks, Marissa. Are you the big sister or the little sister? 🙂

      Like

  5. chevvy8 November 5, 2017 / 1:11 pm

    Firstly – happy birthday my friend and after you’ve eaten the Cherry-cake chip, come over for my little gift to you. I’m sure that you and your sister have been great gifts for each other. I had to share a room with my younger brother so I had to be a tomboy in those days. Though we’re much older, he remains my little brother. I guess, you bond differently when you share rooms. Have a superb day Joan!🎂🎈💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 3:11 pm

      Thanks, Chevvy. The cherry chip cake is fabulous! I’ve been to your studio and perused the day’s music selections, but my phone keeps ringing with birthday well-wishers. Hoping to kick back and do some serious listening later this evening. Sharing a room = sharing everything about your life, so of course, that bond is stronger and very different from the ones you have with your other siblings. Have a great Sunday and smooth sailing in the week ahead. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 November 5, 2017 / 10:38 pm

        Well hope you enjoyed the cake and I’m glad you received all the birthday wishes. I can tell that your experience with your sister was special and one to be treasured. Two hours must have been a too little with the kind of catching up you’d have to do.😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. L. T. Garvin, Author November 5, 2017 / 5:38 pm

    Happy Birthday, Joan! I loved this poem and could just visualize you and your sis in that room. This brought back great memories, a throwback to earlier times that I have a tendency to romanticize. My sisters were so much older than me, so I kinda lost out on the friend part, and instead gained two more mothers, albeit, younger, cooler, more immature ones, LOL. Siblings of any age are truly a treasure. Thank you for reminding us! Have some cherry chip cake for me too! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 5, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Thanks, Lana. Sisters are a treasure; ask your Ma and Aunt Agnes. Aunt Agnes probably got in more mischief than most. And I’ll bet Greg Taylor would have made a fun older brother. I had two pieces of cherry chip cake; I’ll say one of them was for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author November 5, 2017 / 10:39 pm

        Aunt Agnes is definitely tight with her sisters. Yes indeed, Agnes was always into something, ha ha. Oh that Greg Taylor, he might have been fun but of course, he was always in some mischief too. Excellent report on the cherry chip cake 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 6, 2017 / 11:12 am

      Thanks, Snoozin. Four kids in one room? Your folks were really rackin’ and stackin’ you guys in those bunk beds! I’m sure the chatter was endless. Did they employ top-of-the-line sound-proofing? Heavy duty ear plugs? Or just turn the TV up louder? 🙂

      Like

    • Just Joan November 8, 2017 / 2:12 pm

      Thanks, KE. If everyone had a sister like mine, the world would be a better place. 🙂

      Like

  7. Lennon Carlyle November 12, 2017 / 7:47 am

    It must have been a riot having a sister to share a room with. Such fun for you both. I’m jealous! Lovely post and poem Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. circumstance227 November 28, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    This one tugs a heart string. My sister is also 3 years older and we have lived on different continents for 30 years – it’s just like you describe it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 28, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Thanks, 227. Sisters are the best, hands down. 🙂

      Like

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