Today my daughter, Maureen, turned thirty-four. That kid has been a lifetime of delights. Mo is smart, hilarious, wonderfully sarcastic, artistic, and athletic. And no I’m not biased.
Thirty-four years ago today we were in the Wilmington Delaware maternity ward. Mo’s scant hair was pulled up into a small ponytail on the top of her head, held in place with a bit of pale pink yarn. She was swaddled as tight as a pea in a pod.
My parents brought Matt to visit. Mom had made cupcakes. We gave Mo her first birthday party. She had gotten a gift for her brother, carried it with her right straight outta’ the womb. A Fisher Price cop car, motor cycle, and policeman.
Mo went through a four-year-old phase where she refused to answer to anything but “Brucie.” She sat at the top of a sliding board, screeching at her pre-school teacher “NO, I’M NOT MAUREEN! My name is BRUCIE!” We complied.
That teacher suggested to me we hope for a kindergarten teacher who was comfortable with a “creative” child. I think she meant willful.
In first grade, she wouldn’t sit still. Teacher Miss Evensen told her to pretend she was in a box. Mo mimed being in a glass box, reaching out touching sides, ceiling, floor, and moving her mouth to pantomime speech.
By high school, all her buddies congregated at our house. I remember one night sitting on my bed, reading when suddenly I was surrounded by about six sixteen-year-old boys.
Her senior year, Mo was planning to go to a Jimmy Buffet concert. The day of the event our yard men came to mow and trim. Suddenly there was a knock at the back door. The guys had something to show us in the garden. Lo and behold, there under the evergreens were cases of beer and oceans of liquor bottles. We gathered it all up, put it on the kitchen island and called Maureen down from her room.
Her eyes bugged out when she saw the booze. Busted. She was forbidden to go to the concert. Then we called our friends, invited them to party and drank up her goodies.
During her four years at Notre Dame Mo spent every summer as a counselor at Camp Sweeney, a Texas camp for diabetic kids. She and I would drive from Chicago to Texas together. I’d fly home, leaving her with the car. I loved those road trips! We rarely left Chicago before 3 in the afternoon. We played great games in the car. One of my personal favorites was trying to decide how we’d murder someone and where we’d hide the body. We could play that for hours.
Hard to believe my baby now has a baby of her own, Tate. He is now singing Mary had a Little Lamb. Mo used to sing that. She pronounced it Yittle Yamb. A yittle yamb who yived down the yane. I would tuck her in for a nap, then stand outside her door giggling as she sang to herself.
Now she’s is a critical care nurse. I suggested she be an artist. But for some reason she feels being a nurse contributes more than a lifetime spent coloring. Go figure.
Mo, happy birthday and thanks for thirty-four years of laughter. We can’t wait to see you next month!