Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Madelyn, from your sisters

by Joan

Two years ago when I turned 50, my sisters sent me this lovely poem. I’ve mentioned my three sisters before, but this time it's my youngest sister’s big 5-0.

She is the travel goddess who took me to the Emmy’s, the one whose home is open to all, and the one I wasn’t nice enough to as we were growing up. Somehow she forgave me and we are closer than ever before.

A few years ago, Maddie's daughter was a guest author here, posting a poem titled I Am From. So in that vein, I wrote my own corny version and want to share it here, to wish my baby sister a happy, happy 50th birthday.

Ellen, Joan, Madelyn and Adrienne

You are from Russian ancestors signing in at Ellis Island
From tears and smiles and golden curls
The baby of four Wheaton sisters 
From Sylvia and Monroe’s ’40s ballroom wedding twirls

Monroe on his wedding day, Aug 7, 1949

You are from dad belly-laughing at Johnny Carson, mom cold-creaming and hairnetting
From Elby Street to Connecticut Park and Belt Junior High
From shared bedrooms and snug as a bug in a rug
And sneaky big sisters tiptoeing downstairs in the nigh’

You are from bickering dinners, iceberg lettuce and peas from a can
From icy porch stairs, snow tall as the sill
From éclairs and popsicles bought from a truck
And real or imagined glass chips, I was a pill

Sylvia and Madelyn

You are from Stoneybrook camp, sassafras soda and gimp necklaces
From kick-the-can summers, fireflies in jars
From back-to-school clothes, hand-me-down bib dresses
And split-level, avocado carpet tobogganing wars

Joan and Madelyn
You are from matzoh ball and split pea soup with a meat bone
From muffins with half the sugar, honey
From did you brush your teeth, push that glass from the edge
And, no, that sweater costs too much money

You are from drives in the country, soft custard cones
From cousins with scary Bouvier des Flandres and hide the Afikomen
From presents on Chanukah and Christmas morn
Bowed bicycles hidden behind sofas, carrotted snowmen

Nephew Joel and Madelyn

You are from a ten-minute stay at Kaufman camp, murderous Datsuns and re-learning to breathe
From mom’s prize-winning chicken soup, matzoh balls that can take out an eye
From rotary phones with cords, Formica counters and chairs that swivel
And sandy wood porches, Dorsey Hotel fruit cups, Wildwood Beach, sigh

You are from frequent flyer miles, posh resorts and perfect ringlets dried straight
From a chef’s hat, latkes, cornbread stuffing, not dressing
From copycat marriages, babies and homes
From waking at three, asleep by eight or stressing

Austin and Erin
You are from fights and scratches and laughs and cries
From nieces and nephews cute enough to smooch
Dueling with big knives, flying Easter eggs bonking heads on the White House lawn
You are from Ali and Andrew and Oliver the pooch

You are a genuine heart and the best of the bunch
You are friend to all and stranger to no one
You are our time capsule, our past, present and future
Happy Birthday, little sis, with you around, we’ve won

The Foxworthys and the Moras

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