I was six and a half when Sis was born.
Counting “the half” was important then; this I know for fact. But what I don’t know and can’t recall is how I felt about having a baby sister.
I do remember the baby shower though, where I helped Mom unwrap many gifts. The party was held at Edith Marshall’s house I believe, located just up the hill, west of the church where Mom and Dad married. I remember Mom wearing a yellow corsage made from baby socks — which reminded me of soft baby chicks — fashioned into rosebuds held together by diaper pins. The pins and socks, perhaps, were a nod to practicality, both intended for the new baby’s use.
I don’t remember Mom going to the hospital. Or Mom being at the hospital. Or Mom coming home from the hospital. But I do remember seeing my baby sister lying in her used but freshly gussied up bassinet. I whispered a promise to not wake the baby so I could watch her sleep. I stood as close as I could get. And looking in past the new lace ruffles adorning the wicker hood, I found her small. No bigger than a baby doll.
Christi was the only one of us Dad named. He chose to name her for his best childhood friend, Chris Alexopoulous. He and Chris met in 1943 in Cohoes, New York, a few years after Dad’s mother died in a tragic auto accident. Dad may have lived there a year — and, while longer than many places Dad called home as a child, I wonder now, how Chris became so important to Daddy, in so brief an interlude, that Daddy would name a child for him.
I don’t imagine Chris knows Daddy honored him in this way. Nor do I imagine Chris ever realized the regard Dad held for him, that so many years after knowing him, Dad would find a way to ensure he never forgot Chris and the friendship extended to the shy boy my father was.
But as I sat here and write, I realize many regard my dear sister in just this way — in the same way Daddy regarded his best friend Chris. So while Dad may have initiated the honor to his good friend through his act of naming, Christi has extended Dad’s honor through the way she lives her life, as she stands by friends through trials and joys.
I don’t imagine Sis knows the good she does through her simple gift of friendship. But then, perhaps there’s nothing simple about friendship. If there were, wouldn’t we have more friends? Fewer acquaintances?
— Happy birthday, Sis.