And Now We Are Three…


And now we are three.

Then, one day, we will be two.

After that, only one.

And then….

This picture was taken Christmas morning, 1969. If memory serves, we all got new pajamas as our gift to open Christmas Eve. This helped insure we were somewhat presentable the next morning when Mom’s Polaroid came out.

That is my older brother Gene in the back, holding the tracks to his new Hot Wheels set. Gene had those Hot Wheels tracks and hundreds of tiny cars for years, well into junior high. He was a neat freak, and kept them in the original box standing in the corner of his bedroom. This made them easily accessible to Mom, who often employed them as a child behavior modification device. Those thin orange pieces of plastic snapped against the backside would make a child immediately sorry she had crossed whatever line Mom had put up, and think twice about ever crossing it again.

Baby brother Kevin is next. He is going on 3 years old in this picture, and had received a cowboy outfit, complete with chaps, holster with pistol, bandana and hat. Kevin was a fan of all things western. He loved watching old Roy Rogers reruns and, if left undisturbed, would sit for hours holding his little silver pistol occasionally shooting at the bad guys from the couch. I doubt he has been without a gun -if not on him, at least within convenient reach – since this day.

The munchkin in the middle is my little sister Amy. I call her Piglet and she calls me Pooh. This was her first Christmas, she would be turning a year old the next January. It is hard to see in the picture, but she is holding a spoon. No one remembers why, but we tease her that this was a particularly lean year and the spoon was her gift. Being so young, the story goes, she was delighted by the spoon. I refer to this picture as “The year Piglet got a Spoon.” That may very well have started her love of cooking.

The five-year-old in front with the goofy grin is me. Dancerina was my dream doll, and I was astounded that I had been a good enough girl that Santa would bring her to me. I suspected that his “all seeing crystal ball” wasn’t as all seeing as it was reported to be. Looking back, though, I have to admit I tried to be a good kid. Sometimes things happened that seemed out of my power. I was always well intentioned… well, mostly well intentioned.

Dancerina wore a pink leotard with a tulle tutu and, when I pulled the button in her crown, she spun on her toes. Her legs and arms were posable in almost every ballet position. I say almost because, a few days later I was sitting on the front porch with my friend Teresa, showing her the many poses, when Teresa (who took dance lessons), forced Dancerina into “second position.” The arm snapped off. I was devastated. Dancerina was the most beautiful thing I owned and now she was broken beyond repair before the New Year. Daddy glued her arm back into the socket, but it stayed in first position forever.

The little dog was called “Brownie,” which is what all brown dogs are named if you let children name them.

This picture shows four happy children with their gifts of one special toy and new pajamas. I know the sacrifice my parents made to provide these things, together with the normal day to day things children need. After this picture, we would have gotten dressed, crammed into the car, and made the hour-long drive to my Grandparents Montgomery’s house in Tecumseh for Christmas lunch. Waiting for us under my grandparents’ tiny tree would have been a package of underwear, something hand crocheted by Grandma, and a gift wrapped box of Cherry Cordials. It was not much, but it was something we could depend on.

There will never again be a Christmas like this one. We didn’t have to worry about much. We were kids. It was all about what we would receive from Santa Claus. We weren’t called upon to give anything. Our biggest challenge was behaving ourselves and deciding between chocolate meringue or pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. We were a family of rowdy kids.

Gene is gone. Mom and Daddy are gone. Brownie is gone. I outgrew Dancerina. Lord knows where the spoon is. All we have left is our memories.

And now we are three.

Now we are three siblings trying to navigate the present through the uncertainty of the future and the expectations of the past. Will we will ever figure it out?

Now we are three parents and grandparents, ourselves. We are responsible to the people that came after us, because of us. Doing the best we know to do.

Now we are three unique results of a common start trying get through our collective and separate heartaches.

As Merle Haggard told us, “If we can make it through December, we’ll be fine.”

02 comments on “And Now We Are Three…

  • Your daughter , Direct link to comment

    I love your writing. Always makes me tear up a bit (don’t you tell anyone!). You are the best mom, Grammy and confidant that has ever lived. Love you 😍

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