Have You Met Gerette?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's Birthday Time for one of my sisters!

Excuse the photo. It's the best I could find. See the Hubby cleared out a lot of space on his Big Mac, by storing a major amount of photos. He showed me how to pull them up, but he's not the best explainer because he teaches in fast talk getting all annoyed that I'm not some super techie freak like him. If I don't write down step-by- step instructions, starting with-"Put Your Fingers On The Mouse to direct it"- well, then I'm pretty much screwed. I've got some severe disabilities when it comes to technology.

I tried to scan some sister pictures with my new scanner and they scanned beautifully, but I couldn't figure out how to transport them away to the magic place where all the pictures are stored and I started getting really pissy and I yelled at my kids over the fact that I can't figure it out, so this is what you're left with.

And yeah, I took one for the team in that photo. And no, I am not drunk in the limo with all my bros and sisters on my my mom's 70th birthday bash. It's a bad camera angle. That's all I'm sayin.

So, Sister number 3 on the totem pole is 23 today. I'm sorry if I've got that age wrong, Carol Gerette. There's so many of us, I forget everyone's exact age. Let's call you 23ish. Now, that's about the nicest gift you'll get today. Don't ya think?

I know what you're all thinking right now. You're rereading her name over again, saying, "Whoa, major typo." But, you would be wrong, Internet.

You see, as I've mentioned before, I'm Catholic. And we Catholics love our saints. Yes, we do.
I, myself, involve St. Anthony for a little help, every time someone in the Fam, misplaces something. And if you've met my Hubby, you know this happens A LOT.

My little Irish mother was incredibly fond of St. Gerard, the patron saint of the unborn. And in honor of him, she bestowed upon my little sisters some jacked up, girl versions of his name for their middle names. I'm not even sure if I'm spelling that right and I can't like verify it on the Internet because my mom just made it up, just kind of sounded it out in her head. So, sorry bout that, too, if the spelling's off.

Being the first born daughter, I lucked out. I am named after the Mother of Jesus. And how I used to taunt my sisters mercilessly over this as a child.

So, Carol Gerette is having a 23ish birthday, today.

She and I are the pair of siblings that are often told, "You look so much alike."

I wish.

She has thick, abundant hair that does whatever she wants it to do. My hair has the thickness and abundance of many a great-grandmother. Mine does what I want it to do, when it feels like it, only after several pounds of product are slathered onto my scalp.

Carol has perfect everything- straight teeth without the benefit of braces - great skin without any cosmetic refreshing-and a great figure without a single, lousy stretch mark from all her pregnancies. Genetic Freak of Wonder Bitch!

Carol Gerette lives like all the other sisters of mine in The Windy City. She's married to a larger than life Chicago City Policeman who calls everyone, "My Friend" and means it. Talk about our family story repeating itself.

When the Police and my sister got married, they really took those biblical words,"Go forth and multiply," literally. I've stopped keeping count of the number of kids Carol and the Popo have.

It wasn't always that way. They used to have just this one, sweet, little baby girl. Until the day, my sister found herself with child, again.

The Hubby and I were in the Bahamas, in Atlantis, to be exact, on a fun-filled vacation complements of...you guessed it, those crazy funsters of AIG.

It was in the days that cell phones were the size of a car battery and only Donald Trump had long distance service, so no one really USED their phones. Those big babies were just for show and a quick call from the grocery store to say, "Quick, what is it you needed? And talk really fast."

So, after a long night of gambling and cocktailing with the party dogs of AIG, me at my big-roller 25 cent slots, we stumbled into our room, where I saw the flashing light on the room phone.

When I heard my sister's voice on the recorder, I almost threw up the vodka and cranberries I'd been drinking like Kool Aid all night. It had to be horrific news. No one calls anyone's hotel in the Bahamas unless someone's dead! It's just too darn expensive. Anything you want to say, can wait until that person gets home. It's just not worth the five bucks a second to say, "Hey, hope you're having a good time!"

As I was waiting to faint onto the floor, I heard my sister say, "We've just had the ultrasound. It's a girl!"
I thought, Wow she's really willing to cough up some cashola for that news flash-which wasn't a flash at all. It's expected in our house-the producing of girls. We have 12 girls and 4 boys between us. Every time we're all together, it's just a buzz of girls talking over and under each other while the boys just sit there with a dazed look on their face.

So, she says, "It's a girl!" And I'm about to hang up, relieved that no has died and after a big ole pause, she says, "And... another girl!"

I was all, "Yay! Yay! Time to go back out to the casino and celebrate! Bring the quarters! We're partying down! Twins, indeed!"

They had this cute little family and they were very happy.

But, then the bad happened.


My father's death was shocking and awful and the worst day of our lives. But, in that day, we discovered so many blessings.

True Story: My sister and her family were down for a vacation. The day my dad died started out like all the other days of their vacation. My dad would take care of the little kiddies every morning so my sister could sleep in.

I told you he was a great dad.

And on that morning, Grandpa and the twin baby girls had already fed the birds and walked down to see the neighbor's goats and the girls were now sitting in their high chairs while Grandpa made them breakfast. He had on his beloved music and he was singing at the top of his lungs, making those two little peanuts giggle in undying adoration of their beloved Grandpa. He grabbed my mother and the two of them danced across the kitchen floor while the baby girls laughed their tinkly, little-girl laughs, floating across the kitchen floor, their giggles swirling about my parents as they danced.

My dad whispered in my mom's ear, "It doesn't get any better than this."

He left on a day of joy and light, filled with the magic of babies' laughter, dances with my mother, and the recognition that life could be no sweeter.

In the unfortunate timing of the universe, my sister was there with my mother when they found my dad later that day. My sister had an active part in those horrible moments. I will not go into detail, but I will say she watched them take him away, never to return to us.

She had to bear the darkness of that afternoon along with her grief; haunting memories, none of the rest of us had to shoulder. She didn't understand why she was the one to bear that pain. I didn't either. But, I also believe in The Big Plan and The Man Above who makes them. He picked her because He knew she had this magnificent, quiet strength deep inside her. He picked her because he knew she was the best one for the job.

And in his infinite mercies, he gave her a beautiful consolation.

She called me one day not long after my dad's passing with new news, a baby was on the way, AGAIN. She was, to say the least, as surprised as I was. They had this sweet little circle of girls and the car was already filled to capacity.

Once she got used to the idea, she made the big announcement with my blessing at a big hoopdeedoo birthday party for me.

We have this custom in our extended, large family when exciting news happens to someone, a chain begins where someone calls one of the hundreds of the rest of us and proclaims into the phone, "I know something you don't know!" and then slams down the phone. This starts a flurry of phone calls, everyone calling everyone else in this mad dash to see who's pregnant or who's engaged.

We're kind of not normal.

So, my sister got on the microphone at the hoopdeedoo and said, "I know something you don't know!"

And oh, how badly we all needed some good news.

The best part of the story, is that at the time, there were only 2 boys in the family, born on the same day, several years apart. With the multitudes of girls in the family and Carol's track record, we knew what was coming- more pink onesies.

I wasn't in the Bahamas when the call came this time. I was home when I heard, "It's a boy! We're having a boy!"

They named him Jack. A blonde haired, sapphire-eyed boy brought down from the heavens -given the name of the great man who didn't have the chance to say goodbye.

Tender Mercies for Carol Gerette whose mighty strength was there all along, inside a daughter's heart.

That's all the boo-hooing for today. A celebration is in order.

To clear the record, so you don't think Carol Gerette is some sort of teenage mother popping out babies every 5 seconds. She's really not 23ish. She's the proper age for someone who's popping out babies every 5 seconds.

And it wouldn't be a true tribute. the way we siblings do things, if I didn't end it with a bit of a roast.
See, Carol Gerette might be all brave and motherly and good hairish and still wearing a two-piece without a coverup after a cargo van full of kids, but there is this one thing.....

The woman is NOT allowed anywhere near a kitchen! We siblings knew this, before she got married. The police was in for a big surprise the first time she made him a home-cooked meal. Suffice to say, he took over the cooking mighty quick.

Methinks she is a smart girl.

My sisters and I all loved to bake growing up. We were constantly in the kitchen baking cookies and pies and cake creations of all kinds.

Carol Gerette failed miserably every time she tried. Even chocolate chip cookies came out flat, hard, brittle.

Until one day.

I came home from somewhere and there was this beautiful, luscious-looking chocolate cake, proudly displayed for all to see. Everyone was super excited. Carol had baked a cake and it hadn't fallen down!

A big deal was made and once we oohed and aahed it for a while, we dug in.

I don't remember who was the first one to spit it out and choke. But, it was like a bad chain reaction of gagging and retching.

It seemed she had a hard time differentiating between teaspoons and cups. It seemed like a cup of salt sounded fine to her.

We've never let her forget that salt cake. And so, for your birthday, Carol Gerette, your salt cake story here on the Internet for all to see. You are welcome.

Happy Birthday, Sister. Love and Kisses today and everyday. I hope your birthday cake is....well, not a salty one.

Today's Must Have Download: Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters." One of the man's best, from the days before he sold out to pop mainstream. So utterly beautiful, his clear, strong voice, mad piano skills, mandolins singing, and lyrics that make me cry. I love this song so much. One of those songs on my Ipod that as soon as it ends, I play it again and again and again.

It reminds me of the days when we were young and Elton was new and brilliant and life was just us, a bunch of kids running around, loud and wild, having the time of our lives. Have that kind of time today, Carol Gerette. Some Elton for you.


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