Sunday, November 1, 2009

The First

Mara, is a Hungarian form of the name Maria. I don't think my sister Shannon knew that when she chose it. We're Hungarian, so it was a lucky coincidence maybe. This was before you could find a name meaning on the internet. Mara, is, to us, an Irish form of the name Mary and a tribute to one of our great-grandmothers who's last name was O'Mara. Kathleen, is our sister Katie's name. So this was Shannon naming her daughter after her two sisters when she gave us Mara Kathleen.

Mara was born on November 4th, 1991. I will never forget a moment of that day and how I was so happy I could have exploded. I don't really think I have ever really written about the strangeness of being an aunt as a kid. I mean, I think I was the best aunt out there under ten years old. I instantly couldn't really relate to my friends like I used to. I wanted to talk about Mara every minute of every day and that wasn't really what fourth grade was about.

Happy Eighteenth Birthday Mara Kathleen!
I tried to write this about you kid, but I just have to write it to you. It won't cover everything, it would take far too long to even try to. Why not just give this to you? There is no statute of limitations on bragging rights owed to aunts!

We had a ton of fun when Shannon was pregnant, it was some of the best times in the Holmes Camelot of Cherry Road. We'd all sit in front of really bad movies your father would pick out and eat pizza and ice cream. There was like a never ending supply of pizza, ice cream and movies - highlights of my childhood right there.

Your father was the coolest person in my eyes. He had a dunbuggy, let me play on his computer, always took me to Wegmans, always bought me pizza, and above all else - He had rollerblades and took me bike riding with Ben. He had to pass my big brother test long before you came into the picture. He passed, I guess we'll keep him.

There were many jokes about the size of his head that I think maybe scared your mother.

We had this huge couch at Cherry Road in front of the fireplace that would soon become your stage. We would all pile in and be together, never guessing that at some point, that usual thing would be rare or just gone.

Think about that the next time you plop down next to Sinéad. One minute you're fighting over who just farted and the next you're playing phone tag across an ocean or state. You'll miss just having a full house.

Dad would be sitting in his recliner, Grandma Rhoades would be in hers. Your Mema would be in the kitchen non-stop all night cooking and sloshing dishwater. Then, when she would finally grab a drink and sit for the movie, she'd be out in five minutes. Dooley would be curled up on her somewhere and I would be on the floor with Beau. Your parents would be snuggling on the couch. Your Uncle Chris or Aunt Katie more than likely there somewhere.

After the movie we'd once again swear to never let your dad near a video store. Then Shan and Pat would head home to your first home on Essex. It was a two-bedroom apartment and my favorite hangout. Everything was new. I remember when they moved in and unpacked all of their wedding gifts. I remember when they built your crib. Your Aunt Wendy, before her last name changed to Holmes, gave you a really soft blanket with two matching pillows that said Mara and Kathleen.

Your first bedroom was the one next to the bathroom to the left of your parent's room. One night, before you arrived, I was helping your grandmother and mother set it up. I was amazed at the things my mother had kept. I was still so little myself but I remember being confused why she kept things from when I was a baby.

You had so much stuff before you even got here. First grandchild, absolutely spoiled. You and I even had matching clothes. Purple Gap Kids and Baby Gap dresses. I think I told everyone I was going to be an Aunt.

Right before you arrived we were incredibly busy campaigning for your father. I would walk around door to door with Mom. We had fundraisers and loads of work to do. Then, you were born on election day. Hysterical.

It was a school day. I remember waiting in the hospital for ages. They wouldn't let me into the room with my sister. I was too young. What a crazy rule that was back then. I was tearing up because I thought they were going to make me leave the hospital without meeting you.

I stared at you through the viewing window until finally they needed to bring you to Shan. I stopped the nurse with the basinet in the hall and that's how we met. You had a little pink hat on and tons of dark hair. There wasn't a thing about you that didn't fascinate me. You were so small but you had the whole family stunned with glazed over goofy faces and smiles.

The first.

That's your title and no one can take it away. You went from making me watch Barney after school everyday to commanding a room's attention to your stage. From little girl in my hands trying to walk a step to a kid making me run 5ks with her. From this tiny little baby to this gorgeous, gifted, intelligent woman.

I love the feeling I get when I see you reading Austen, listening to punk and parallel parking. Or when you yell at politicians on TV (you are so my mother's granddaughter). Its a feeling of not just pride, but complete confidence. I know you, I know who you are, and Mara, you're great.

All my love, All the time, No matter what.

Aunt Mary

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