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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Holly

I still remember it.. my mother and father calling me into their bedroom.  6323 Rygate Drive North, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.  614-866-8735.  The limeish greenish siding, the white cinder block wall that held the front steps in place; the backyard with the dog kennels.  The Amish shed would come a little later, as would a new fence, different cars; and much later on- the different faces that would occupy this home. But at this point I was still preoccupied with my matchbox cars; reruns of Adam-12 and Emergency; new episodes of Chips, and trying to decide if I wanted to be an FBI agent when I grew up.  I was six years old, and I had everything a boy could ever want.  Most of all, I had my parents to myself. 

But that early spring morning they called me into their room to tell me some news.  Then, as now, I often assumed incorrectly.  I was convinced I was about to be told a trip to Sea World was in the offering for my spring break.  Giddy with entirely reasonable excitement I sat down on the bed, across from the mirrored dresser and they broke the news.  News that would alter my world-- as much as if my own personal globe took a leisurely tumble off the Empire State Building.  I was going to have a brother or sister. 

My parents were so thrilled.  You could see how happy they were.  Only later would I come to understand just how hard it had been for my Mom to have children.  Just how much pain she had endured in the quest for a child.  A path that led them first to Franklin County Children's services and the surprise acquisition of yours truly a few years hence; and a later, even more shocking surprise that my Mom was able to have a child the old fashioned way.   And on August 28, 1981- Little Holly Nicole Carver came into the world at the Old St. Ann's Hospital on Bryden Road in Columbus.  She was as beautiful as most.  And things went quite well until, only a few days in, I discovered what all siblings ultimately do.  Much like North and South Korea today, a subtle battle began-- never all out, just some occasional jabs here and there in an attempt to establish roles and dominance. Given that her favorite thing to do from about two on was to run behind me and tackle me to the floor; or run out the front door to hide in the front bushes while my mother organized search parties and chartered helicopters, I suppose you could say she was a challenge. 

But it was never a bad challenge.  I defended her honor at school when my class read "Sister for Sale" by Shell Silverstein and my seven year old self decried the horror of such a thought.  She returned the favor years later-- by calling out a fellow student in speech class who had decided to do a presentation on why gay people should never have the right to adopt children. My sister dismissed her bigoted speech directly and proceeded to speak of her real love-- manatees.  

We faced challenges together as well.  My mother's illness and passing at the age of 60 in 2005 being probably the most lasting, and most revealing.  My sister lost her best friend and her mother in the same instant-- but she gained a brother, even more than before.  And I listened to the stories of the bad boyfriends, and the frustration and pain at trying to find love in a world that does everything it can to kill it.  I offered advice (and more importantly an ear) as she pushed her way through college and EARNED her degree-- becoming the kind of teacher that children are lucky to have, and that, perhaps, our Mother should have been all along. 

Through every trial I cried silently with he.  And I cried in joy that April morning when I loaded her and her wedding dress into a rented mini-van for the short drive to a Spanish chapel and a beautiful wedding to a man that I still sometimes think doesn't realize how lucky he is. 

I almost didn't get to talk to my sister on her birthday this year.  Hurricanes have a way of doing that.  But the great thing about family is that no matter whether its the passing of a loved one, or the landfall of a storm; or the end of a love; or the celebration of one-- family is still family.  And I am very lucky to have been able to watch my sister from day one.  To be there for the smiles and the tears.  And to be able to be there, in one short month, when she will give birth to little Emma.   I cant help but hope that she is not an only child.  I am glad I wasn't. 

And by the way, Id still punch Shell Silverstein the mouth for that poem.

Holly Nicole Carver-- Ireland June 2010

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