December 24, 1964
Baby Krista is arriving home from the hospital. This will be the first time Debbie meets her new sister. Excitement doesn’t come close to describing her feelings!
Once Mom settles into her chair, Mrs. Gaston holds Krista out to her, but Mom shakes her head. “We’ll let each of the kids hold her. They’ve been waiting all day.”
Wayne runs to the couch and sits between me and Phil. “Me first. Me first.”
“No. Me first.” Phil jabs an elbow into Wayne’s ribs. Wayne chooses not to jab back. His wise behavior just about guarantees a reward.
I sit quietly on my best behavior.
“I think Wayne first, then Phil, then Debbie,” Mom says.
Not fair. But since I don’t want to make a scene as soon as Mom’s home, I continue to sit up straight, not letting my lips tremble.
Mrs. Gaston helps Wayne hold the baby, placing his left arm under her head and his right hand supporting her back.
“Wow, she hardly weighs anything. I thought she’d be heavier.” He peers down at her. “Doesn’t have much hair, does she?”
He hands her off to Mrs. Gaston and scampers back to Mom.
Phil’s turn. He holds the baby like she might break. Krista’s eyes open, and she seems to look past his shoulder. “I think she’s going to have brown eyes like me,” he announces.
If he’s right, things will be even. One boy and girl with blue eyes, and one boy and girl with brown eyes.
Maybe he would have spent a little more time holding her, but the baby starts to stretch her little legs and arms, and he hurriedly returns her to Mrs. Gaston.
Very gently, Mrs. Gaston places Krista in my arms. She’s easier to hold than I thought. Her perfect little head rests in the crook of my left arm, while my right arm holds the rest of her. So tiny. The Scottish would call her a wee bairn. I read that in a book once. Tightly wrapped in a pink flannel blanket, she looks so cozy and comfortable, and she smells like baby powder. She blinks and stares at the wall. After a few seconds she shifts her gaze to my face and smiles.
I gasp in hushed delight. “Mom, look! She’s smiling at me!”
“It’s probably a little gas. Newborns can’t smile yet.”
But I know better.
Phil jumps off the couch. “C’mon, Wayne. Let’s play marbles.”
They both run down the hall toward their bedroom, feet pounding on the wood floor.
“Boys, quietly.” Mom puts a finger to her lips. “You’ll startle the baby.”
They slow to a fast walk, trying to step lightly. Krista lies peacefully in my arms as if she hasn’t heard a thing.
“See, Debbie?” With a slight grin, Mom raises her eyebrows. “Now you get to hold Krista for as long as you want.”
Boy, does she know me or what? I hadn’t said a word, I hadn’t pouted, but she knew anyway.
Click to read Excerpt 1.
Click to read Excerpt 4.