...my parents sent me off to Grandma's for a week or so. It was quite a big deal, me flying to Dayton as an "unaccompanied minor" at the age of seven, getting a little souvenir TWA flight bag and captain's wings, being treated like royalty by the flight attendants, and all that. From there, Grandma drove me down to Kentucky Lake, where my Aunt Bee had a cabin (she was actually a great-aunt [in every sense of the word], and she predated the Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith show in having that moniker by several years) and I did all the cool little-kid stuff like swimming and fishing and getting to "drive" the boat. Most of my young life was spent doing typical suburban stuff, so it was nice to have some commune-with-nature time like this.
Once we were back at Grandma's, she was in the shower getting ready to go to lunch when the phone rang, and I answered it. It was Dad, posing a most interesting question (and explaining to the reader my reasons for going away for a week): "How would you like to have a brand-new baby sister?" (The longtime family joke--last repeated at the rehearsal dinner for her wedding, if I recall--was "What if I'd said 'no' when dad asked that question?") I was, of course, all excited and got Grandma's attention as quickly as I could. We returned to St. Louis (Florissant, to be precise) as soon as we could, and I got to experience being a big brother for the first time.
Years (we won't say how many) have passed, and now she has kids of her own--three very active boys whose exploits have often been chronicled in this blog. Phone time is rare (we managed seven-and-a-half minutes today) and visits all too infrequent (though if my travels take me anywhere near Austin, I'm almost certain to stop there), but the closeness that started almost immediately, and intensified when I went to college, has never faded.
Happy birthday, Sis. May there be many, many more.