Friday, January 1, 2010

Mairy Godmother

My mom knew what she was doing when she picked her younger sister, Mary, to be my godmother. Since the beginning, Mary and I hit it off. She had this chest in her room in San Francisco; it was filled with toys, and every time I visited her, I'd choose one.

Each Christmas Eve, when we were allowed to open one gift, I'd find the present with Mary's round writing. Before I could even read.

When I was seven, Mary and I took Muni to Macy's downtown. We rode the escalator to the second floor, where Mary bought me a brown paisley-printed skirt and a Betsy Clark watch. I wore the skirt and the watch down the escalators and out of the store, feeling excited and happy and special.

I stayed with Mary in her flat on Lawson Street, in her red-carpeted apartment on Dolores, and in her house in the Sunset.

Mary made peppermint cake and black-bottom cupcakes. She worked in a hospital and had a son, Greg, for whom she baked tiny treats to go inside his eight-inch Cookie Monster delivery van.

We would take walks, sometimes at Ocean Beach. We went to doll shows and listened to Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" over and over and over.

Today we sang "Sweet Caroline" together into ceramic salad tongs in my kitchen. Our birthdays are this month: I'll be 39, and she'll be 50-something.

It's been almost two generations of singing and laughing and crying, and an almost impossible amount of talking. We talk books, and men, kids and corn. We talk chocolate and coffee and sex. We try to figure out my mom, who's been gone twelve years now. We miss her.

When Dave and I moved to Oregon sixteen years ago, we thought it was accidental. It wasn't. Mary lived a couple of hours up I-5.

Mary is the grandma my babies don't have: she checks in with their math, sends them books, and reminds me to be patient.

This evening, Mary and I took the kids to Toys R Us.

When Rees strutted out with the Lego Battle of Endor tucked under his arm, I knew exactly what he was feeling.


Katie said...

awww I love this story!!! so cute! I want a Mary!

Anonymous said...

Reading about memories you made with Mary do lift my heart. She is a wonderful person.

Mary was never rich but she is one of the most generous persons I know. Your mom could not have had a more devoted sister than Mary. She really is someone special and I'm glad for both of you that you are good friends.


anjie said...


Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is a beautiful story, Jennie. Thank you for sharing Mary with us. It sounds like you and your kids are blessed to have such a wonderful lady in your lives! :-)

Anonymous said...

Are there angels in my angles?