January 25, 1969 was a life-changing day for me.
I was seven-and-a-half years old and I couldn’t sleep. After tossing and turning for hours, I snuck out of the bedroom I shared with my sister and tiptoed to my parents’ room. Their door was closed, but light was seeping out of the space between the bottom of the door and the carpet. I pressed my ear to door, but didn’t hear any sounds. So, I slowly and quietly turned the knob, inched the door open, and peeked inside.
Imagine my utter shock when there, lying on my parents’ bed, was the humongous Mr. Trowe! He was wearing a white ‘wife-beater’ t-shirt, colorful boxer shorts, and black sup-hose socks and he was talking on the phone. I quickly closed the door, rushed to my room, hopped into bed and pretended to be asleep.
My heart was pounding in my chest. What was going on? What time was it? Where were our parents? Was my brother still down the hall asleep in his room? I didn’t dare go check. But, as I lay there trying to figure out what to do, Mr. Trowe suddenly emerged from my parents’ room (fully dressed) and headed downstairs.
As my heart rate slowed and my thoughts stopped racing, I figured out the mystery. “Wendy,” I whispered loudly. “Wake up! I think Mommy had the baby.” She bolted upright in bed and asked, “What? How do you know?” I quickly told her what happened and, all at once, the phone started ringing through the darkness. We jumped out of bed and went rushing down the stairs and into the kitchen where Mr. Trowe was on the phone. He smiled and handed it to me, “It’s your dad.”
Putting the phone between each of our ears, and talking at the same time, we excitedly demanded to know, “Daddy, is the baby a boy or a girl?” “A girl,” he replied. Wendy and I started jumping up and down, making a lot of noise, as four-and-a-half year old Craig stumbled into the room. Rubbing his eyes to adjust to the bright light and scrunching up his face, he whined, “Whhaaattt?” “Mommy had a girl,” we shouted. And, with that news, his little body crumpled to the floor with agonizing sobs as he wailed, “Noooooooo….send it back…..I wanted a bruhver!”
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When the au pair arrived, she stayed in my brother’s room and he moved into mine. I, in turn, got to sleep on the studio bed in the baby’s room. And, it was there and then, during her first two years of life, that my baby sister and I developed our unbreakable bond.
It all started with the morning ritual of coos and diaper changes. I loved her smiles, hugs, and kisses. Then, it quickly turned into her waking me up by calling my name; rather the nickname she gave me (Chesche) because she couldn’t say Cheri. (A nickname that is still mine today.) And from there, I was anointed with the responsibility of dropping her off at and picking her up from preschool when I was in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades.
* * *
It’s impossible to capture forty-four years of history in one short blog entry. But, suffice it to say that, despite the age and geographic distances between us (she lives in Israel), we’ve always managed to remain close confidantes. Though I don’t have a specific reason why…
Maybe it’s because from Day One she was MY baby. Maybe it’s because I didn’t let my mother call her Raimie. Maybe it’s because we shared a bedroom when she was a newborn and again later during my high school and college years. Maybe it’s because she’s known and loved my husband since she was seven. Maybe it’s because she was easy to bribe with ice cream. Maybe it’s because she married a guy that I love too. Maybe it’s because she kept an eye on both of my kids when they studied and toured in Israel for three months. Maybe it’s because my son calls her ‘Mom Number 2.’ Maybe it’s because my daughter is comfortable going to her for advice on boys. Maybe it’s because she is a great friend and cares deeply for others. Maybe it’s because she’s a great cook. Maybe it’s her curls and freckles.
At the end of the day, it all simply comes down to the fact that I just love her.
Happy birthday, Baby!