Project 52: Year 4 – Baby Sister!

Three weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52 — for 52 weeks I’m reflecting on the 52 years of my life. (Plus a special bonus 53rd post on my 53rd birthday.)


This week I’m looking at my fourth year, when I was three years old.

This year is memorable — because I remember it!

Mind you, the memories aren’t anchored in time. A three-year-old lives in the eternal now. But I can date some of these memories because this was the year my sister Wendy was born, in October 1967.

Here’s our family with my Mom clearly expecting Wendy sometime soon and hiding behind Ricky.


Ricky would be six years old in October. He was in first grade that year. Becky was four years old and not in school yet. I was three years old.

I do remember wanting to sit in my Mom’s lap for a story and her giving me a funny smile and saying the baby was in her lap — which didn’t make any sense at all!

But Wendy’s birth was much more vivid. We went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Salem, as we often did. But Daddy left us there! I remember being told that Daddy would come back and get us on Saturday, in seven days. And feeling slightly bereft.

But then I remember that actually we went back in Grandma and Grandpa’s car. My memory didn’t have that as actually seven days later or on Saturday — it was much, much later that I found out that my Mom missed her kids and asked for us to come back sooner (which no one bothered to explain to the three-year-old).

Anyway, I remember being in the front seat, probably on Grandma’s lap, and looking at the funny blue stripe at the top of the windshield. I’m pretty sure I did some lying down too and looking at the gray sky behind that blue windshield.

But the traumatic part of the journey was when we were almost home. Ricky said that when Daddy asked “Who is it?” we should say “Me!”

That worried me because how would Daddy know who it was if we did that?

Then — sure enough — we knocked and Daddy asked, “Who is it?” and Ricky and Becky answered, “Me!”

And, to my dismay, Daddy answered, “Sorry, but Mommy doesn’t want any Mes in the house.” But my dismay was short-lived because he opened the door and let us in and Mommy was lying on the sofa and there was this little baby in a little bed next to her.

It’s funny what sticks in a three-year-old head.

That was also the year I learned to read. My Mom would make flash cards with words on them to get us started. She did this later with younger kids, so I know from that how it works. Start with names of people in the family, and gradually get more difficult. Anyway, I remember one time she had me go get some cards I hadn’t been able to read the last time they came out — but I remember now that I could read them no trouble at all — the word on top was “yellow.” I can still see those cards in my mind with the word “yellow” written out. And it meant “yellow” just as much to me then as the word does now. I knew that word.

Ricky also brought home beginning readers from first grade. He could already read, so he didn’t need them. But I remember reading about Dick and Jane and Baby Sally. I especially liked Baby Sally. It probably helped that the word “Sally” was a lot like “Sondy.” And she had a big brother and big sister, too.

Years later when I was assigned those readers in school, I was appalled by how boring they were. I remembered them as delightful and fun! I think now it was the excitement of being able to read them, the discovery that comes from the unfolding of the words.

So — those are all the memories that I’m sure happened when I was three. There are many more memories from when we lived in the house in Kent — but probably more of them happened when I was four and five.

For those who are counting, my Mom still had three kids at home while Ricky was in school. And that’s with one of the largest gaps in the family between Wendy and me. Whew! (Becky and I, though, at 15 months apart, are the closest together of any siblings in our family.) But I have some fond memories of being the big girl at home the next year when Becky and Ricky were in school and Wendy and I were at home. But that’s for next week!

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