Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Sister

I was six years old and in the first grade…I had finally mastered tying my shoes 2 months earlier. We lived in a 2 story home in base housing in Minot, North Dakota and it was the beginning of December so it was cold…stinkin’ cold. The Monkees were singing “Daydream Believer” on the radio, “Family Affair” was my favorite show on TV and I had the Mrs. Beasley doll to prove it.

We were expecting a new little brother or sister…this was back in the days before ultrasounds gave you a sneak peek into the womb to clue you in on if you should buy blue or pink receiving blankets. Lucky for this baby there was an older brother and two sisters with hand-me-downs for either need.

I don’t remember much about the day she arrived. Mom went into labor while it was still November and had the baby in December. Apparently our baby sister had a difficult time making her debut. At one point during her delivery our mom remembers my dad was asked who to save, the mother or the baby. I can’t imagine being forced to make that choice but my dad, choking with emotion, gruffly replied, “You better save the mother we have 3 children at home”. But- God…He had better plans for this little baby and both mother and baby made it through safely.

Before mom came home with our brand new baby sister I remember sitting in the back seat of the car with my sister Pam and dad asking us if we wanted to name the baby Patricia or Paula. I don’t know if Phil was part of that conversation, if so he was in the front seat because I can’t remember him sitting with us. I was adamant we needed to name her Paula. There was a girl in my class named Patricia and she wasn’t very nice to me. Funny how you remember things like that from your childhood.

From the start we all adored Paula. I think it’s safe to say she is our favorite sibling. Of the four of us she was the only one to keep her blond hair, she also got the curls…the rest of us have dark, straight hair losing our battle with silver as we get older…her silver just blends in with the blonde.

Before she was a year old she was a world traveler, traveling to Japan. (It should be no surprise to anyone that she loves being on the go- it started early in her life!) From there we went to Okinawa, and back to Minot when she was four.

One of the scariest memories I have involving my sister Paula was when she was about 5 and I was 11. Our laundry was down in the basement. She and I had taken our baths and we had to carry our dirty clothes and wet towels and wash rags down stairs so we went down together and placed them in the correct laundry piles. As we turned to go back up the stairs I said “Race ya!” and we went racing up the stairs side by side. Before we reached the top 2 steps she slipped and fell between the railing down to the concrete floor below, landing between the water heater and the furnace. I can still see her little body sprawled out, her eyes closed and her blonde curly hair fanned out on the floor.

Screaming I ran into the living room and told my mom Paula had fallen down the stairs. Dad was gone…the military life seems to require that the active duty member be gone when major things are happening back home. Mom called the neighbor across the street and he ran over through the snow, barefoot (remember - winter in Minot North Dakota) and carried Paula to his car, taking off with Paula and mom to the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse in my life, I thought I had killed my baby sister. Again, God’s hand was on her and she suffered no serious injury. How she managed to fall between the water heater and furnace without hitting either one can only be explained by her guardian angel…he was on duty that night.

After I got married and left home Paula and I stayed close. I think in many ways she is the glue that holds our family together. She has always been the peacemaker, always been the voice of reason when tempers flared. She has a huge heart; she would rather cut her arm off than hurt someone intentionally. She is fierce in her loyalty and convictions. She loves her family and her friends so don’t be messing with them!

For many years she and I would talk over the phone long distance about the day when we would live close to each other…wouldn’t it be cool to live down the street from each other!? We don’t live down the street from each other…but when the house next door to hers was for sale earlier this year I tried to convince Carl it was a sign from heaven that we were to move to Kansas City. We live 3 hours apart now and I absolutely love going to visit her. We laugh, we cry, we shop, we work on projects, we fuss, we share our hearts, we sing (really loud) and we eat.
If you know her then you love her…you know what we knew 43 years ago, that she is a precious blessing sent to our family straight from God.

Happy Birthday Paula! You are so loved and I am so glad to be your sister.

Penny