When I was seven, my mother left for the hospital to deliver. At the time I had one brother and four sisters, and was feeling a bit outnumbered. I hoped that my parents would bring home a little brother and even up the odds a little. When my Granny got the phone call and announced that my parents would be bringing home a baby girl, everybody cheered, except me. I broke into tears. I really wanted a little brother.
By the time my parents brought her home, I had resolved to love, or at least live with, my new sister anyway. She was a cute baby (most babies are) and quickly grew into a little towheaded girl with a special birthmark just above her left hip. My parents named her Tassie. She turned out to be a hard working, and helpful sister, and I soon forgot about crying the night she was born.
Several months ago, I got a letter from Tassie explaining that she and her family were going to pull the children out of school and go on the road during the hard winter months of Maine. She wanted to know if they could come and stay a week or so with us in Arizona. Although we had never lived close to each other since we left home, we tried to keep in touch across the miles. It would be a great opportunity to reacquaint ourselves. How could I refuse? (Maybe I still felt a little guilty about crying when she was born.)
So a few weeks ago, Tassie, her husband Randy, three of their daughters, Gabriela, Mirette, and London, came to visit us in Arizona and escape the wintry weather of the northeast. Maine is a bit different than Arizona, especially in March. While Maine was suffering under yet another winter storm, we enjoyed beautiful sunny weather all week long. We gladly made space for them to sleep, and room for them at the dinner table. They integrated quickly and became part of the family.
It was fun to watch and interact with my nieces and get to know them better. Brie is a young woman now, almost ready to tackle life on her own. Mirette is a soft-spoken redhead (yes, they do exist). London is my sister’s “mini-me” right down to the platinum blonde hair and the funny comments.
Mirette, along with her father, wanted to catch all the critters that roam in the warm desert climes, like tarantulas, lizards and scorpions. One evening, armed with a black light, a glass jar, and a pair of tongs, they went out searching for scorpions in my father-in-law’s half-acre backyard. They were not disappointed. They came to the back door with a scorpion as long as my index finger scurrying around the bottom of the jar. Under the black light he looked otherworldly.
Tassie asked London, “Do you want to see the scorpion?”
“No,” replied London without hesitation.
“Why not? Maybe we’ll take it back to Maine with us. Do you think we can tame it?”
London eyed her mother with a serious face. “I don’t want to tame it. I want to kill it.”
Out of the mouth of babes…
|Britt and London Driving the Boat|
Most of us in Arizona don’t go swimming in our pools until May because the water is still too cold for us, but they swam almost everyday in the brisk water as if it were as warm as bathwater. I had to heat up the hot tub before I got in. We took them out on the boat and pulled them on the tube. They had on life jackets and wetsuits to keep them warm, but I don’t think really needed them. They begged me to go on the tube with them, but I lasted about thirty seconds. After one spill, I got back in the boat.
A couple of days before they left, a good friend of mine took them up flying. It was another perfect spring day in Arizona with a clear blue sky stretching to the desert floor. After takeoff, each of them got a chance at the controls. My sister was so nervous her hands were shaking, but Brie took to it like a natural. It gave them a new perspective. When they landed, they told me it was the most fun thing all week.
We played games and talked about politics, good books, and movies, but not necessarily in that order. We ate a lot of good food, but we especially liked the way Randy cooked and prepared vegetables. We tried to convert him to dessert, but he continued to resist our temptations (oh well, more for us). It was like catching up on the experiences of a lifetime in one week’s time.
It was another beautiful spring day in Arizona when Tassie and her family piled into their minivan and headed for my other sister’s house in Los Angeles. We all hugged goodbye, and we wished them a safe a journey. It had been a wonderful week full of love and excitement. I may have the cried the night Tassie arrived, but this time I cried inside when I watched her, and her family, leave.
|Brie "Flying" on the Tube with Rylee and Kati|