She was no woman. She was a girl who’d learned to say her alphabet on the front porch. Who played so hard her cheeks turned red. Who named puppies.

Miss Ann drove me to the hospital in her Buick. She walked me through the parking lot, holding my hand.

We took the elevator. My father was pacing the hallway by the window.

“It’s a girl,” Daddy said. “A girl, can you believe it?”

He was wearing blue scrubs over sooty work clothes. A blue surgical cap. He looked ridiculous.

We wandered into a hospital room that was white and sterile.

Mama was sleeping hard. They handed the girl to Daddy first.

He stared the baby in the face. He examined her hands and feet, counted fingers and toes. He smelled her.

He smiled. “A girl,” he said.

When he pressed her against his chest, he wore the same look some drunk people wear. A sort of loose smile.

“A little girl,” he said again.

They let me hold her. She didn’t weigh much more than an unripened squash. Her eyes were closed tight. She smelled funny.

A girl.

Daddy died a few years later. It didn’t take long before the girl could hardly remember his face.

The boy did his best to teach the girl important life lessons. Such as: how to fry bacon, how to scoop ice cream, how to spin a quarter, shoot bottle-rockets, and spit for distance.

And when the family dog gave birth to nine puppies in the garage, it was the boy who taught the girl to hold the newborn things.

“Is she a mama-dog now?” asked the girl.

“She is,” said the boy.

We stayed up for half the night, holding pups, giving them names like: Fred, Ginger, Waylon, Loretta, and Bill Gaither.

The girl got older. Prettier. Smarter. She played sports. She competed on a swim team.

The boy clocked out early from work to watch swim meets and cheer. And, it was the boy who took her to Waffle House afterward.

“I wish Daddy could see you today,” said the boy. “He’d be so proud.”

“Oh,” said the girl with wet hair. “Please don’t cry in Waffle House, you’re embarrassing me.”

On the day of her wedding, she held the boy’s arm. At the altar, the man asked: “Who gives this woman away?”

Woman.

She was no woman. She was a girl who’d learned to say her alphabet on the front porch. Who played so hard her cheeks turned red. Who named puppies.

Who sat in her brother’s lap on Christmas morning and said, “Promise me that we’ll be together forever.”

A girl who nearly totalled her car once. A singer. A talker. A swimmer. A white-dress-wearing brunette on my arm. A friend.

Last year, I was out of town on business. I drove through clogged Atlanta traffic with my wife in the passenger seat. My wife’s cellphone rang. She held it to her ear.

She hollered, “It’s your sister! She’s out of the delivery room. It’s a baby girl!”

A baby girl.

I was fortunate enough to know one of those once.

And I can think of nothing finer.

28 comments

  1. Juanita Ruth One - May 13, 2017 12:36 pm

    Having birthed three precious baby girls, your today’s column gave me chill bumps and watery eyes. They are one of life’s most treasured gifts!

    Reply
  2. Judy Miller - May 13, 2017 12:38 pm

    Sounds like it was quite a stretch of time between you and your little sister. 13 years between my little sister and I–the only siblings. We each feel like we were “only” children. I was out of the house and married when she was just starting Kindergarten.
    I can remember when she was born and my Daddy said to my Grandma, “It’s a baby girl.” I kept repeating that most of the day.

    Reply
  3. Ken Givens - May 13, 2017 12:47 pm

    Your choice of words is amazing. You evoke all senses and create vivid images. But the way you weave a story is beyond amazing. This piece may be the best example of that. My wife and I hope to see you in Opelika in a few weeks.

    Reply
    • LindaD - May 13, 2017 9:53 pm

      When and where? I would love to meet him, too.

      Reply
  4. Debbie Beach - May 13, 2017 1:04 pm

    Priceless. Again. 👍🏻

    Reply
  5. Martha Tubb - May 13, 2017 1:13 pm

    I am a new follower…. thank you for the wonderful thoughts and observations!

    Reply
  6. Nicholas Curtis - May 13, 2017 1:29 pm

    I do not have words to adequately describe the majestic way you with simple words. You capture the small moments in life that make life worth living. Thanks for sharing, and opening up paths in my own mind to what really matters.

    Reply
  7. paula jones - May 13, 2017 3:29 pm

    I just smiled for 5 minutes. Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Janice - May 13, 2017 4:57 pm

    With simple words you make the simple things of life magic. Your writing touches my soul.

    Reply
  9. Martha Morrow - May 13, 2017 5:16 pm

    This old English teacher would have been mighty glad to have you in my class. You’re a fine writer!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous - May 13, 2017 5:22 pm

    Thank you. Believe it or not, on this Mothers Day weekend, I identify with you. Though I am a female, I held my baby sister in my arms and loved her her whole life. I’d rather not say why, just that our mother was not always available. I find this piece very touching.

    Reply
  11. Sharon - May 13, 2017 5:49 pm

    This brought back memories when my baby sister was born. I lost my baby sister 2 years ago, and I miss her every day. Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  12. Cindy - May 13, 2017 6:35 pm

    I absolutely love your stories. They always bring to my mind a memory with my parents or brothers. Thank you so much for sharing your talent of storytelling with us all.

    Reply
  13. Pam - May 13, 2017 7:06 pm

    You make me weep. And I thank you for it.

    Reply
  14. Suzanne Wright - May 13, 2017 7:44 pm

    Just beautiful! You are so special!

    Reply
  15. Barbara Buckner - May 13, 2017 8:18 pm

    I just love this! And I love how you write. Words that come to life in my mind. It’s the greatest compliment I can give. You are a fine writer.

    Reply
  16. Joyce - May 13, 2017 9:46 pm

    I keep saying I won’t cry but I do.

    Reply
  17. Jon Dragonfly - May 14, 2017 1:25 am

    Frame this and give it to your niece. She will cherish it forever.

    Reply
  18. Kathleen - May 14, 2017 1:29 am

    Like this story, the love between brother and sister!

    Reply
    • Juanita Ruth One - May 14, 2017 3:50 am

      I, too, like this story of love between a brother and sister. My one younger brother whose life I (being 3 years older) ran until he got old enough to call his own shots, in adulthood has become more like my “big” brother offering his sage wisdom to his single sister. I’m very grateful for my beloved Bubba!

      Reply
  19. Laura Stevens Boyd - May 14, 2017 4:07 am

    You are an incredible writer and I am throughly enjoying all of your musings. They each touch me very deeply. Thank you and, please, keep it up. Blessings to you and yours.❤️

    Laura Stevens Boyd

    Reply
  20. Jeannie - May 14, 2017 8:58 pm

    I agree with Jon Dragonfly. Frame it and give it to your niece. Beautiful and she will love it and you forever!

    Reply
  21. Lynda Gayle Knight - May 14, 2017 10:39 pm

    Another winner!

    Reply
  22. Leigh Rankin - May 15, 2017 12:54 am

    Holy moly. I’ve been reading you for a month or so, 2 Stories a day, and they’ve all spoken to me… I have shared a bunch of them on Facebook, and they have been shared, but this one….. please don’t stop.

    Reply
  23. Lilli Ann Snow - May 16, 2017 3:20 am

    Oh, Sean…

    My daughter was a baby held gingerly in the arms of a big brother she called Bubba.

    She and he? Well, they have both, on several occasions, said to me that the other one is their best friend.

    At 40 and 30, now, they feel the same.

    Nothing finer…

    Reply
  24. Suzanne White - July 8, 2017 11:59 am

    This story describes my son & daughter so well I cried. Thank you for reminding me.

    Reply
  25. Deanna J - July 8, 2017 12:44 pm

    There is 9 of us! I am # 7, I was the queen for 5 years, till the last two came, and I remember, it’s a girl!! Thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  26. Ben smith - July 8, 2017 10:45 pm

    Awesome. I remember a little curly blond hair girl lots of the days. God Bless her and her son.
    Thanks.

    Reply

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