Halloween Baby

A long time ago I wrote a little nonfiction piece called Monkey Alien Turnip Baby.  I am considering editing and posting it on my Patreon in the future, but for now l’ll just tell you it is essentially the story of my sister being born.

For those unaware, I have a sister named Bernadette who is 13 years my junior.  She was a HUGE surprise, mainly because after having me my mother had her tubes tied.  Bernie’s little soul gave not a crap, however, and burst onto the scene on Halloween, 1996.

It is now 2021, which means that in a few short days, my little Monkey Alien Turnip Baby will be turning 25.

To say that I love my sister is an understatement of epic proportion.  I will die for my sister.  I will kill for my sister.  I will serve the prison sentence awarded to me after killing for my sister, and I will do it with a smile on my face, that is how ferocious my love for her is.  She is perfect.  You can sit there and list her flaws all day and I will simply have to remind you that you are wrong and she is the best person in the world and we are lucky to exist in her light.

That’s not to say I haven’t wanted to kill her.  There were many times in her youth where I could have throttled her, and it took a long time for us to move past the sibling rivalry stage.  Some would think, given the age gap, that this could not be something we went through.  They are wrong.  She may have been 4 when I was 17, but that doesn’t mean I was any good at dealing with splitting my life with her, especially after being an only child for thirteen years.  She had ways of getting under my skin, and adults were always yelling at me for arguing with her.  Listen…I don’t care what you think.  I don’t care if I was an adult too…that little girl could be obnoxious.

Alas, she hit about fifteen and was just right as rain.  Things got easier as she got older, and then I moved out, and I missed her more than my mom and dad.

Now, she is out there in the world on her own.  Tomorrow night we are having a party.  My cousin Dom’s band is playing at a local pub, and we are all dressing up and going to his gig to celebrate.  On her 21st birthday, I was in the hospital and missed the festivities.  In fact, I didn’t get to buy her a birthday drink until her 22nd birthday party.  I am EXTREMELY hopeful that I will not get sick and miss this year, and I really don’t think I will (knock on wood, anyway.)  The only down side is that Mark has to work that night and can’t accompany me (we were going as a flapper and a mob boss…now I’m just a lonely jazz girl with no guy.)  Next weekend, however, we are going to a party at Bern’s house, for her and her roommates.  It also happens to fall around K’s birthday, so they will be putting her name on the cake as well, which I thought was sweet. 

I used to hate sharing Bernie’s birthday with a holiday, but now I love it.  There’s almost always a costume party to go to, first of all, and I love that she still dresses up every year. (Funny side story: When Bern was about 5, a girl, whose birthday was in May, invited her to her party.  Bernie was conflicted on which costume to wear, and that was when I explained we only wore costumes on her birthday.)

Anyway, this is obviously just a little Halloween post to say how much I love and appreciate my sister being in my life, even though I spent many Halloweens (particularly the one in ’96,) despising her contributions to the day.  I have grown and so has she, and the relationship we have now is one I wouldn’t trade for anything.  She’s my favorite person in the whole wide world.

You can’t tell me any different.


April Fool’s

Today is April Fool’s Day, which I always thought was a kind of fun thing when I was a kid, but became more of a pain in the butt as I grew older.  I liked the idea of pranks, but never the prank itself. Then, 25 years ago, something happened that I wouldn’t call a prank, but sort of felt like one at the time.

A couple of days beforehand, my mother told me a secret.  She took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.  We were driving to our house in Kenmore from who-knows-where and I don’t really recall my reaction.  I didn’t think much of it.  To be honest, my twelve-year-old brain went straight to “she probably is just going through menopause.”

Then, April Fool’s Day.  Mom received a call from the doctor, confirming that she was indeed pregnant.  For a second there, I was waiting for the nurse to say “Ha-ha April Fool’s!” but I later learned that would have been very unprofessional.  Mom and Dad cried and hugged and I kind of smiled and went with it because what choice did I have?

Mom told me not to tell anyone but I went bowling later that day with my friend Jill and told her immediately.  The next morning in homeroom, I told my best friend, Christina.  Her response?  “Oh my God.  Your parents still have sex??”  Thanks, Chris, for that imagery. 

On Easter, we told the family.

Now, a little background on my mom:  she was 40, and she had her tubes tied after she had me.  So, really, it’s no surprise that my aunt yelled out “Holy shit!” in the middle of church when my dad told my grandma during the Sign of Peace.  Everyone was crying, and after Mass the priest even came to ask us what had happened. 

We went to my Aunt Ellie’s after, and they called my Aunt Cathy and told her we were having a family meeting.  Well, she comes over all in a panic because we have never had a family meeting before, and she thinks grandpa’s dying or something.  Dad told her the news, and she was both overjoyed and furious with him for stressing her out.  Then, a few days later, I spent the night at my Gram’s.  I was pouring syrup on my pancakes when Aunt Mary came in the kitchen.  She wasn’t at Easter, and somehow, she hadn’t heard.  I don’t know how that’s possible given my family, but there it is.  So, Gram urged me to tell her, and I did: “Mom’s having a baby.”  Mary then proceeded to yell at me about how that wasn’t a funny joke until Gram stepped in and vouched for me.  Anyway, my family was very excited.  Which was cool, to me, because I loved my family and if they were happy, I was happy.

I spent about seven months going about my happy little day without a care in the world.  Then, mom landed in the hospital for a month.  I survived on frozen lasagnas from my aunts and spent a lot of quality time with dad, but the whole baby-arrival thing still didn’t hit me.  It didn’t even hit me on Halloween, 1996, as they wheeled my mother into the delivery room while she was wearing a headband that had wobbly bats on it.  I wish I had a picture.

When it hit me finally, she was already here.  She was in an incubator being wheeled down a hallway and she was all red and her head looked like a turnip.

I washed my hands and arms up to the elbow.  I put on a gown and a paper hat, and I went in and sat in a rocking chair.  A nurse put her in my arms.

She was so small.

I took my finger and poked at her palm, and her tiny hand curled around my fingertip. “Hello, Bernadette,” I said. “I am your sister.”

Yeah, I was a self-centered preteen at the time who really didn’t grasp the life changes a baby would bring.  And it was hard, in coming years, for me to adjust to the new situation.  But everyday I would see her, and she would need me, and then I would do anything to make her smile.  April Fool’s Day is not my sister’s birthday, but it is the start of our adventure with her, and I wouldn’t change anything. 

Except maybe they could have called on April 2nd

Me and my little monkey.