Guest Post: Halloween Birthday Memories

Happy Halloween! This was written by my sister and posted on Facebook today:


Every year Halloween brings back the memories of the most special October 31 in my life–when I was three years old. As the photo implies, my costume that year really didn’t matter. My new role–Big Sister–did!

Mom was induced, so I was bundled off to my grandparents–their apartment is where the photo was taken–the night before the big event for care, feeding, and shipping off to nursery school in the morning.

For the rest of her life, my Grandma Ruth loved repeating, each October 31, the story of how, after my grandfather had left for work, she got me ready for my bus and sent me off. Late in the morning, my father telephoned. “Joanna has arrived,” he said. “And I cried,” my grandmother would say each time she told the story, because my new sister was being named for her own mother, Johanna, who had died earlier that year.

You have to understand how tough Grandma was, and how rare it was to see her cry. (And also that, back then, no one knew the baby’s gender–forget about a name–until delivery.)

If this sounds familiar to some of you, that’s because it left such an impression on me that it made its way into the “Homecomings” story in —Quiet Americans.

I know that somewhere, Grandma is regaling listeners with that story today. Happy birthday, J.

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