I am from poetry-filled journals and mechanical pencils. From golf clubs, frisbees, and flip flops. From sleepover-filled calendars, movie nights, and Orville Redenbocker.
I am from a little white and red house elbow deep in blonde prairie grasses, black-eyed susans and morning glory weeds.
I am from Holy Thursday lamb and Holy Saturday bells, Saturday work parties, and Sunday brunches,
From my Mom and Dad, Paul, Kevvy ~ and Matthew, ~ Jonnyboy, Dominicky, Seesa, Sassy, Nanna, Gabey, Yuyum. And from Nina.
I am from hairbrushes, from Goody barettes and Johnson's No More Tangles,
And curly brown hair passed down from my Mama, through her Daddy, all the way back to his Mum.
I am from laughing, singing, and teasing.
From Mary Magdalene's stale bread and poor, dear Rosie Anna's arm.*
I am from the beauty and tradition of the ages in my beloved Roman Catholic Faith.
I am named for St. Michael and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. I work and play under the watchful eye of my angel, Barbara.
I am from the width and height of the Rocky Mountains and the rolling beauty of the Great Plains of Colorado,
From Wales and England and Ireland and Germany.
From my mother's father and his life on the sea, and my father's father, a man of the water, I am oceans, as well as mountains and prairie and sky.
I am from Nina's treasure chest of albums and Grandmom's photo covered walls.
I am everyone's sweetheart, everyone's best friend.
I am Michelle
And I am thirteen. Today!
Happy, happy birthday, Shell! We love you!
+The format for this "Where I am from" poem can be found here.
* These are famous family references. I'm sure Michelle won't mind my filling you in on them.
Rosie Anna was Michelle's beloved (I mean beloved) little doll. One of her brothers, in a fit of brotherdom, threw dear Rosie Anna on the ground, breaking her stiff plastic arm. Michelle (about 6 at the time) was more than heartbroken at the tragedy. She was mortified. Aghast. Horrified. You'd have thought it was her little sister's arm lying there broken off. And let me tell you, the spine-tingling wail that vibrated off the walls of the house that afternoon still lingers. I think that now, eleven years later, Michelle might have forgiven her brother, but we don't often bring the subject up, out of a certain respect for historic tragedy.
As it turned out, =sigh= poor Rosie Anna... I couldn't fix the arm. But we moms do have our ways... Michelle didn't find out 'til later that I had pulled mother-prerogative and stealthily switched out the old Rosie Anna with a new one, rubbed with sand paper at all the right places to look like old Rosie Anna...
Now to explain the Mary Magdalene reference...
If you've seen the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, lately, you might remember the scene at the Mount, where Our Lord miraculously divides the loaves and the fishes for the crowd. In the movie, Mary Magdalene is present. Do you remember the scene? Ann Bancroft (who plays St. Mary) is given one of the pieces of bread, takes a bite, then looks up toward heaven. Having apparently just realized the miraculous nature of this meal, and therefore the divinity of Christ, she bursts into tears... A touching moment in movie history, right? Well, um... Any time this part comes 'round, we all burst out laughing here...
You see, when Michelle was around 7 years old or so, the meaning of the scene and the importance of Mary Magdalene's epiphany were not so very clear. We were all watching the movie during Holy Week, seriously intent on the scene ~ and just at that part where Mary Magadalene looked up with tears in her eyes, bread in her hand, little Michelle says:
"What? Is her bread stale?"
We can't help it. It may seem irreverent, but it still just cracks us up.