Still Our Baby

Today I’m taking some time away from the usual weighty drivel since it’s the birthday of our girl Annie, seen here (as a baby on the day of her christening) in the arms of my old pal Kathy, one of a small group of women with whom I wouldn’t have survived those early parenting years.

Annie was the second-born so we didn’t teach the daylights out of her like I had done with her poor big sister. We just enjoyed her.

Like any second-born, she had the sense not to take parental expectation too seriously: She told us  about the big Fourth Grade project on Native American Myths just hours before it was due, choosing as ‘her’ myth “Why the Buffalo Fears the Chipmunk,” and drawing for her buffalo a wobbly picture of a seeming mammal that bore an eerie resemblance to Herbert Hoover and using for her chipmunk our hamster-of-the-moment, decked out with tiny Indian props.

The next morning at school the hamster ate the box, Herbert and all, and escaped its shoebox to make mayhem in the classroom. Everyone loved it.

Annie knew even then how to take things in stride.

She also had amazing powers of observation. Such amazing powers of observation I decided to try apprenticing myself to her so I could notice more in life. She could ‘sketch’ for you any person in her class, not by pouring the whole dictionary n them as I tend to do but by naming just one feature and then, eerily ‘showing’ the person to you by making her face look like that person’s face. You know how that Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond ‘did’ Bill Clinton mostly by biting his lower lip? It was like that. I thought even then that Annie could get a job doing impressions.

Add to that the fact that she’s funny; was funny, right out of the gate. She was only 15 when one of her big brothers said of her that no party really started until Annie got there.

Here she is one last time on the day of her graduation from that awesome school in Northampton, together with her godmother Sheila and that her big brother Dodson. Happy Birthday Annie Marotta! May you get three times the number of years you have now!


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