What are the odds?
What are the odds that when you put your penny in the gumball machine (yes, young-'uns...they used to cost a penny) you are going to get the EXACT gumball you want AND the tiny cracker jack toy that you were wishing for at the same time? What are the odds that on your first cast of the day you catch a sweet little Brookie with a nice sharp upper fin that hasn't been worn down by swimming his whole life on a fish farm; one that has perfect fight and leaps into the air in front of the rising sun? Who gets so lucky to actually be assigned to the absolute favorite fifth grade teacher? Or win that puppy in the penny auction down at the middle school?
Not that I am one to keep track of these things; but I am a pretty lucky gal. I should bet on me, really! I find money lieing in the road when three people in front of me have missed it. I found a dime right in front of my shoe just yesterday. I won the class election by something like three votes my junior year. Goodness...DAVE CONNORS married me!! Talk about LUCK! (that was 32 years ago yesterday, by the way. Happy Anniversary, Love!)
Luck in its purest form came drifting down from heaven and charmed me 50 years ago today. It remains with me still. I was just teeny, barely walking and still getting used to having a body. My Mom brought Luck home in a blanket, swaddled around her like a papoose. Her orange red hair made her swaddled body look like she was an early summer carrot. They named her Elizabeth, after our grandmothers, but I didn't know that for many years. To me she was just LIBBY.
She was the perfect playmate! And I mean PERFECT! She was always happy to play whatever I wanted to play. Pioneers and cowboys riding horses on the basement banisters. Dressing Barbies for a play on the Camelot stage in the basement. Rocking back and forth in the attic in pretend rocking chairs, our matching Madame Alexander Pussycat dolls snuggled in our arms. If I wanted to experiment with Elmer's Glue and string, she thought it was a brilliant idea. If I wanted to pretend the crab apple tree was a space ship she was co-pilot. If it was a rainy day and we couldn't play outside she spent six straight hours on top of our twin beds with me, never once setting foot on the ground because that was the ocean and our beds were boats and we were lost at sea but at least we had each other. At least we had each other.
A few years ago when Guillain Barre smacked me upside the head and knocked me over, Libby picked me up and set me in a wheel chair. Pushed me through the corridors of the hospitals, taking notes; researching on the Internet in the wee hours of the night, arming herself with questions for the doctors the next day. Even still she is sensitive to how I might feel, years after most people forgot how sick I was. Almost two years ago she and I sat side by side while the doctors told us not to expect our mother to live through some emergency surgery. We clung to each other, shaking our heads, looking into each others eyes for long long moments, unable to process the possibility. We waited for our other sisters to arrive. They drove through the night from California. Our brothers came, too. We clustered there in Mom's hospital room for two weeks, all through the night and all through the day, taking turns playing songs and telling stories. Everyone rotated going home for rest now and again. But Libby never left. She is devotion personified. She is faith and tenderness and determination. She is gentleness and sincerity. And she is laughter. Tell me if there is a finer recipe for a human being?
Libby considers herself lucky, too. She reminds me of that when I watch her bend her knees and lift our mother into her wheel chair. "I am so lucky" she will say, then she will look in our mother's eyes and whisper; "And you are so beautiful!" She will say these words to our 85 year-old mother as she kisses her on the forehead. Every time she lifts her she kisses Mom's snowy-white hair. Her back hurts. She has muscles where 50 year old women who don't work out at the gym usually don't have muscles. They are earned by daily repetitions in love.
She is a nurturer extraordinaire! When we were young and whispering our dreams to each other across the pathway between our beds, we never could have imagined that she would not bear children of her own, with a husband who was strong like the ones on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Never ever would have imagined it. And yet.
So instead of becoming bitter; instead of withering in self pity or wondering why God doesn't seem to love her as much as other women; she throws her arms open and pulls all our children into her heart. Holds them there when their own parents can hardly stand them. Loves them and adores them and is not afraid to let them have it if they need that, too. She is the soul of goodness and virtue and I cannot believe I am so LUCKY...so gosh darn lucky to have her for my sister!
What are the odds?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LIB!