My Baby sister Margaret Jean was born 20 years ago today. Damn, she’s getting old….Shit, I’m still older….
She’s never been called Margaret Jean though. From day one she was Molly, Molls, Mugs, MugFace, MaGoo…..from day one, she was truly amazing.
Molly was born on my last day of school – 1st grade. I was six going on seven. We had moved from Denver to Colorado Springs in April and May 30th was my last day of school. My parents really debated enrolling me in Explorer Elementary for a month but decided that it was my only chance of meeting friends before summer vacation. While I appreciate my parents’ valiant effort in helping me make friends, it didn’t work. I didn’t make friends easily. I was shy and chubby and didn’t have any really cool toys. The only girl I hung out with that summer was named Stacy and she was mean. We spent all summer playing school (don’t ask me why, Stacy called all the shots). But this post isn’t about me, it’s about this remarkable young woman:
Molly came into my life before I was ready. As I said, it was the last day of school and we were having a party. It was one of those lame 1st grade parties where someone’s mom makes cupcakes and everyone rubs shaving cream all over their desk to clean off the pencil marks. I had just grabbed a can of shaving cream when my Nannie ran into the classroom and told my teacher Mrs. Lott that I needed to leave right away; my mom was in labor in the car out front. Mrs. Lott began jumping up and down screaming, “You gotta go, you’re mom’s having a baby! You’re mom’s having a baby!” I said, “Ok, I’m almost done cleaning my desk” and then turned around to spray my desk with the Barbasol. Mrs. Lott ran over and yelled louder, “No, you don’t understand, you’re mom is having a BABY! You’re going to have a little brother or sister.” I didn’t know why she was so excited, I already had a little sister, and she really hadn’t improved my standard of living any. Emily actually made my life hell. I wasn’t very excited about having another little brother or sister in the family. Was this one going to beat me up and nickname me “Larry” also? I was happy to clean my desk, calmly gather my belongings and walk out of the classroom at noon, when school was over, like everyone else. Well, I was six, so the choice wasn’t up to me. Mrs. Lott gathered my manila envelope of end of school goodness, took the shaving cream out of my hands and shoved me into my Nannie’s arms. I was whisked away to a very boring place: the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to play with the toys because they were for sick kids. It was just me, my mean little sister Emily and Nannie waiting for mom to produce the New Baby.
As soon as I met Molly, things changed. She was so chunky and soft! She quickly became MY BABY. She was way cooler than any of my baby dolls and I was happy to help my mom with feeding and dressing and bathing and even changing her diapers. Two years later, when my little brother was born, Mom pretty much signed Molly over to my care full time. I was almost 9 and ready to accept the duties and responsibilites of being a parent to a toddler. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, Molly had some really nasty diapers and there were times that Emily and I were getting along and really wanted to play “big kid” games like My Little Pony or Barbie Wars. In instances such as these, I had to shut the door and refuse admittance to Molly at the first sound of her crawling up the stairs calling “dirls, dirls….” I told her she could come in and play with us when she learned her whole alphabet – we were “girls” not “dirls.” She cried. But that’s what babies do, they freaking cry – a lot. Then, they learn to use their words. Then, they yell. Eventually, they settle things in violent battles of the wits – like a rousing round of Pictionary or Slap Jack.
Four years later, I got my own room – in the basement. Molly moved into the bottom bunk and Emily got my spot on the top bunk in the upstairs bedroom. This was right about the time Jurassic Park came to theaters. Suddenly, I was having bad dreams about VelociRaptors barging into my basement room in the middle of the night and tearing me to pieces. I would get scared and hide under the covers, using every bit of logic in my 13 year old brain to convince myself that all of the dinosaurs were extinct – permanently extinct, never coming back, extinct. I told myself it was just a movie. That didn’t work. I told myself that it was impossible to build a dinosaur out of DNA extracted from a mosquito. That didn’t work either. Finally, I told myself that we had two dogs outside and if there really were dinosaurs about to bust through the basement window and eat me, they’d be barking like mad. That worked….almost. Inevitably, I would think that the dogs had already been eaten. Ensue full panic mode. Every night, I rushed up the stairs and dove to the safety of the bottom bunk. I slept in towards the wall, and Molly filled the position of big spoon – completely shielding me from paleo-dangers. I didn’t start sleeping in my own bed until I was almost 15.
Molly was more than just my protector from all dinosaurs scarier than LittleFoot. She was my sidekick. When I got my driver’s license, Molly was the first person to ride solo with me in “el trucko,” my 1989 Dodge Ram. She even did me the huge favor of not telling Mom that I went the wrong way down a one way at the mall that day.
When I went to college, Molly wrote me letters EVERY DAY. I still have all of them.
When I came home from college on Molly’s 13th birthday and surprised her, she cried.
When I moved to Oregon, Molly road tripped with me. She navigated the whole way using only some handwritten notes on a piece of paper from her Mapquest.com research, because that’s how we rolled in the pre-GPS days of 2007.
When I moved from Oregon to Connecticut, Molly was promoted from navigator to real co-pilot and took a few legs of the trip. She didn’t even complain (too much) about having a cat and a beagle puppy in the car with us, even when the cat bit her every time she touched him (my cat has never bitten anyone else…ever….)
Molly traded cars with me: her 1995 Subaru Outback with All Wheel Drive for my Purple 1998 Toyota Tacoma with cool bumper stickers on it.
When I decided to blow my honeymoon fund on a 2009 Jeep Wrangler, Molly happily went with me to the dealership, test drove in various wranglers with me and sat with me on the sofa as I cried my buyer’s remorseful heart out for hours after. She helped me drive the Jeep back to Connecticut, developed mad Jeep-topping-and-de-topping skills, and devoted a few weeks of her summer to being my personal trainer, chef and assistant.
I thanked her for helping me with the Jeep by making her wake up at 2:45 one morning to take the train into New York City to watch the Today Show. Molly loves Al Roker.
Last Christmas, I took Molly, Mom and Billy to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. The only thing she wanted for Christmas was a picture by the big Christmas Tree in the City. I love making things happen for this kid. Blizzard or not, we got a picture with the tree:
No one will ever know you like your sister does. Once, I asked her to proof read an e-mail to The Ex. She responded in her easy comfortable manner:
“As poetic as the whole sandcastle thing is, I’d take it out. No offense. I liked it. But then, what do i know about men/relationships? Considering the fact that I liked it, I’d rewrite the whole thing and say the opposite. But just kidding. Not going to lie, my eyes did water a little at the end.”
It was her way of making me smile and starting up an e-mail banter about how there was nothing wrong with the “sandcastle thing” and she really doesn’t know anything – and she is the loser that just watched the first 5 seasons of Greys Anatomy in 3 weeks!
I’m lucky because I have two sisters, but Emily is a whole other blog post for a totally different day.
Happy 20th Birthday, Molly. Keep Fighting the Good Fight! You’re my hero.