This Friday is the birthday of one of my favorite people. I can remember sitting on my Aunt Margie’s lap as a small child, having a discussion about people changing their names when they get married, and I told her when I got married I would change my name to Margie. She would change hers to Kathy, she told me.
From age 5 when I had to have surgery on an eye muscle, I would have an eye appt. every year on my birthday. My dr. was in Winston-Salem, where Margie had an apartment, so my treat every year on my birthday was to spend the night with Margie. She taught me to sing Mary Poppins and Sound of Music songs like “Just a Spoonful of Sugar," “Do Re Mi," and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." She told me stories, often making them up, to my dismay when she couldn't remember the same one to tell me the next year.
I remember a shopping trip when we went in search of a “puzzle without a back" and successfully found a Mighty Mouse one, and another when I insisted that yes, these size 7 shorts were exactly the right size, until she finally gave in and bought them, when actually it would be many years before my child size 7 body would grow into the size 7 of those shorts. They were my Margie shorts though, so I kept them until they fit and then wore them often. I've always been good at saving special things. I still have every birthday card she sent me as a child!
Margie likes to tell the story of how when we'd go shopping I'd insist that whatever we bought couldn't cost more than one dollar. What she didn't know was that that was my strict orders from my mom. But a dollar went a little further than it goes now, and I think we managed to stay within budget!
I’m not sure exactly how many years our sleepovers continued, or if perhaps there were additional times besides my birthdays, for the memories seem like there must have been many visits. Yet just before my eighth birthday, I know they must have stopped. Margie was 28 when she married Uncle Bill, and her family suddenly increased from one to four, and later to five, and Mary Poppins would have to take a back seat.
I knew then that that would be the end of our special sleepover times, as she would now have her own family responsibilities, and while I was right about that, there was much I didn’t yet know about my special Aunt Margie. First, I didn’t yet know that she had my grandma’s gift of making every person feel like the most special person in the world (I just knew I was), and second, I didn’t know how strong or how far a love like that could stretch.
No matter how large or geographically scattered our extended family became over the years, or how busy we all became with our own lives, Margie remained the glue that kept us all connected. Despite having her own family, Margie has always made it her priority and enjoyment to attend special events of all of us: weddings, graduations, baby showers, basketball games, or she and Bill are always ready to meet for lunch with any family group that wants to gather – often siblings or cousins.
I think Margie loves every person she meets, and every person she meets loves her. To Margie everyone is someone special, and every person’s needs are genuinely important to her. No one would ever question from where her love comes though, as her deep Christian faith is impossible to overlook. In Margie I see the reflection of God’s love and the reflection of my grandma’s, which are surely intertwined, and I (as I suspect do hundreds of others) count my Aunt Margie among the most treasured blessings of my life.
Happy birthday to you, Margie! Do you want to have a sleepover at my house this weekend? We can sing some Julie Andrews songs, swap stories, and it's my turn now to take you shopping, but I think we should allow for at least two dollars.
My Mama, Margie, Me, Bill, and My Daddy at my graduation from seminary, 1991
Grandma's Childhood Memories
Grandma's Childhood Memories