by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1996
A few years back, I gave Mom a videocassette containing a montage of over sixty family photographs set to music. The video began with a picture of Mom holding me as a baby, and then pictures of my sister Theresa as a baby three years later. As music by Tom Jones and Reba McEntire (Mom’s favorites) played, the video faded from one picture to the next, and Theresa and I magically grew up over thirty years. My favorite picture was taken several years ago in New Hampshire, when I spontaneously scooped up Theresa in my arms and we made goofy smiles for the camera.
The video concludes appropriately with the song, “We are family” and shows Mom, Theresa and me an hour before Theresa got married to Steve.
Watching my own copy of that video recently, I was struck by how special my relationship with my sister has always been. I think back to those seemingly long-ago days, and remember coming home from first grade and teaching Theresa everything I learned each day. I was amazed how fast she learned her colors and alphabet. Amazed how young she was when she started reading. Amazed by how she was reading well past her reading level long before I was.
I remember nights spent over a Monopoly or Scrabble board (“Uh, I don’t think UNPREZIPPERED is a word, Theresa”), and the many afternoons outside playing kickball and Frisbee. Theresa and I can recall many, many Summer evenings, happily exhausted and filthy after playing and running all day.
In the Autumn, we raked the leaves and built scarecrows. The biggest Christmas presents were always the ones we gave each other. We made each other Easter baskets in Spring, and decorated the house on birthdays. On our vacations, Mom often commented how well-behaved we were on long car rides, and Dad often told me to stop kicking his chair.
Don’t be fooled into thinking we were perfect children, though. Theresa’s war cry of “Get out of my room” whenever I crossed the demilitarized zone between our rooms was a regular occurrence, and as a child Theresa often vowed to murder me once she grew up. “I hate him, Mom! I’m gonna kill him!” she often swore.
Naturally, nearly all of this juvenile behavior faded away as Theresa and I grew older. The only rivalry that remained was Theresa’s desire to win every award I won in school — and she did.
I remember when Theresa was 14 and took a job selling papers for the Boston Globe in Boston, right around the corner from where my stand was located. Dad was thrilled that I’d be there to watch out for her, and I remember many winter afternoons when Theresa and I pooled our meager resources for cookies or hot chocolate, or summer days when we rode our bikes into Boston.
I remember how mortified Theresa would get whenever Mom and I started acting silly in public. I might do a “Chevy Chase” pratfall or say something insane to get Mom to start laughing. I recall the many times Theresa would look away and pretend that she was not really with these two buffoons.
I don’t think Theresa will ever forgive Mom and me for being the life of the party on our tour bus in Las Vegas. I especially don’t think she’ll ever forgive me for announcing to everyone on the bus that, “My sister is really embarrassed by our silliness, but we’ll never see you again so I’m sure you don’t mind!” (They didn’t)
I think about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful sister who is also one of my closest friends, and often reflect about how rare that is.
I remember the day I walked her down the aisle in Dad’s place. I was more nervous than she was.
All those memories… Where in the world did the time go? I’d be lying if I said it felt like “just yesterday” that Theresa and I were kids, yet somehow part of me still sees her as that little blonde girl on a skateboard, the kid crying to Mom about what a monster her brother was, or the girl I shared pizza with for breakfast on many summer mornings. I suppose part of me will always see her as my baby sister.
But Theresa isn’t a child anymore, a fact I was vividly reminded of recently, when Theresa gave birth to her first child, a baby boy. Affectionately referred to as “Baby Yob” for the past nine months (a reference to an old “Loony Toons” cartoon), little Colin made his debut on August 8, 1996 and weighed in at seven pounds, ten ounces. It’s hard to imagine, but my baby sister is now a mother.
Of course, Theresa has been step-mother to a terrific little girl for several years, but this will be Theresa’s first experiences with diapers, bottles, teething, 2AM feedings, and all the associated joys and responsibilities of a newborn baby.
While I try to reconcile the image of the little girl playing jump-rope those many years ago with the woman holding her newborn son, and as I try to get used to being “Uncle Bobby,” I realize that Colin’s birth did something special for me, too.
Holding little Colin last week, I realized that there are many more “Glory Days” still to come. He was a very real reminder that many of the “good old days” have yet to be lived. There’s so much more to do, and so many stories yet untold. With apologies to Theresa for quoting Star Trek, “The adventure is just beginning!”
Welcome to the family, little Colin! And to Theresa and Steve, I wish you the best, and ask you to remember that Uncle Bobby and Aunt Sue are available for baby-sitting duties!