Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Sister

Today is my sister's birthday. I was not quite nine and Mama was twenty five when she was born. Mama was much older at twenty five when she had Freda than I was when I had my daughter at that age. Mama was sick before, during, and for quite a while after this last baby was born. I remember she mostly ate only toast and jelly. Our OKC Grandma came to stay with us while Mama was in the hospital and stayed long enough to help Daddy move into a different house before they brought Freda home. We always rented.

Speaking of rent houses...we looked at a really pretty house on Sevier Street while I was still in grade school. It had a big picture window and enough bedrooms that we would not have to share. Daddy said we could not get it because the rent was $100.00 a month.

I do not remember what should have been the memorable event of bringing a baby sister home from the hospital. I do remember Grandma staying a little while and asking me to take a dish back to a neighbor at the end of Taylor Street. I thought she meant a lady who lived across Main Street. When Pete's mother sent the dish back with me stating it was not hers, Grandma got real upset that I had crossed Main Street by myself.

Freda was a happy baby who I do not remember ever crying. She surely did but I was too unobservant. Or maybe, and this is probably the true reason, Daddy never gave her a chance to cry. To say the least, she was a little spoiled. She was always the easiest child to get along with though. As she did with the rest of us grandchildren, Grandma practically raised Freda Lou. The Lou in her name was after our Grandma, Dena Lou. Grandma fried a lot of potatoes for Freda. Mama used to laugh about how she had to come home from work once to give Freda some nasty tasting medicine because Grandma could not bear to see her cry when she had to take it.

I wish I had that lamp, that chair, those drapes, and that Grandma now.
(I'd like to have my old arms and legs back too. But not that frizzy perm.)
Freda was named after her two grandmothers. And remember I was named for Rita Hayworth. Rita and Freda. Why did they do that? We could never tell which one our parents was calling. Well, I could usually tell by the tone of their voice. If they were calling because someone was in trouble or needed to do the dishes, it was Rita. Does the baby always get out of doing chores? Daddy said he did ask Freda to sweep or do something around the house one time but her response was, "You know I don't like to work." He thought that was so funny. Me? Not so much. We later married Don and Ron.

My Aunt babysat Freda for a while during the winter months. She would take her to a little neighborhood market and buy her a grape soda every morning. She dressed her in the cutest little green snowsuit. We should have taken a picture of her. She would always go to sleep in her little rocking chair while watching Captain Kangaroo and drinking her bottled soda pop. She ate some cigarettes one Easter morning and while Mama did dress her in her Easter outfit, she was too sick to go to church.

Sorry for the poor quality. She was sick here.
She always said the funniest things. Yet now, I do not remember any of them. Oh, yes I do. After this same Aunt married, she babysat Freda again. A wall hanging featured a half moon shape that apparently fascinated Freda. She pointed to it one day and asked what it was. Uncle Roy was working at something, and quietly said, "It's the moon." She asked again, "What's that Uncle Roy?" After he patiently replied it is the moon four more times, he finally said, "I don't know, honey." She said, "It's the moon." I am sure that is not funny to the rest of you, but it has been a family anecdote we have laughed about for years.

A better Easter picture of us.
My brother and I married and moved away from home years before Freda did. Although we were equally loved, she enjoyed a special relationship with our parents that remained until they both passed away. My children were married when Freda and I somehow became closer in age. As she was yet encumbered with child rearing and I had completed mine, we began to enjoy flea marketing and sometimes even a weekend trip away.

That changed when I began nursing school and she had a mid-life baby. Elizabeth Ann (the Ann is after me) tried to make an entrance many weeks too early and Freda was put on complete bed rest to prevent premature labor. She had just been allowed to get out of the house when we decided to get a bite to eat. She specifically asked for a veggie and cheese sub sandwich and we both ate one before I took her back home. Later that evening, she was rushed back to the hospital. Despite being placed on a table that almost stood her on her head and caused the veggie and cheese to come back up, there was  no stopping Elizabeth. She arrived ten weeks premature and weighed 2 pounds 15.5 ounces. Freda had to remain in Clarksville as the Children's Hospital ambulance whisked Elizabeth a hundred miles away. I cried as I followed those flashing red lights through the drizzling rain as that precious baby was taken to the baby saving specialists in Little Rock. How hard that must have been for Freda. By the way, I do not think she has had another veggie and cheese sandwich.

As soon as she was able, Freda and I made many trips to Children's to see Elizabeth. I did not get to hold her until someone said grandmothers could hold the babies. The next visit we told the staff I was Elizabeth's grandmother. They believed me. That was great but kinda' not.

Freda and Elizabeth at Children's Hospital
Mama and Daddy loved Elizabeth. Daddy bought her honey buns because he knew she loved them and although Mama was quite ill, she and Elizabeth enjoyed a special bond.

Elizabeth has inherited Mama's love of jewelry
Elizabeth became my "same as grandchild" niece. She is only four years older than my first grandchild.

Although Elizabeth was a little afraid of the "eager to play with her older cousin" baby Rachel, the teenager and she now enjoy a close friendship.

Now that Elizabeth is going off to college, maybe we can take a trip together. I can see us now. Two little grey haired ladies off to the casinos. We could go on those little tour buses you see everywhere. Oh, I forgot, I throw up on a bus.



  1. What a lovely story. Happy Birthday, Freda. Oh, and the prior post, I didn't get my Pyrex at a flea market. I'm still using my Mom's. :)

  2. What a loving share of your relationship & family. Happy Birthday to Freda Lou.

    Have a beautiful week ~
    TTFN ~

  3. What a wonderful post, Happy Birthday Freda :o) Scarlett x

  4. I enjoyed the memories and old photos. Happy Birthday wishes to Freda Lou.

  5. That was lovely - from one big sister to another. I had to laugh at your rhyming names and then your husbands' rhyming names - too funny!
    I hope you get that trip. I've never taken a trip with either of my sisters.

  6. Rita
    What a sweet story of the special bond between you and Freda. IMy closet sister is 9 years older than me, but it makes no difference now that we are older. I look forward to a few bus tours with her!! Don't wait until your gray!

  7. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. Thanks Rita!

  8. What special memories about your sister! Thanks for sharing them with us... the one about Freda not ever eating any more veggie and cheese sandwiches made me laugh!
    Happy Birthday to Freda!

  9. I have visited you via a comment you left on my blog (thanks). Great story. I feel for your Mum, I was sick the whole way through both my pregnancies, worst thing EVER! Love the pic of you kids in your gorgeous dresses. I really enjoyed this post. Sherry :)

  10. Love this memory post. Happy birthday to Freda Lou from me, as well, only a few days a birthday-girl ahead of her! Wasn't it wonderful when we dressed so frilly and sweet every Easter? Best wishes to Elizabeth too as she goes off to college.

  11. Love, love, love your post, what a sweet story. You sure have a way with words and the photos are so amazing.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog and giving me such sweet words of encouragement.
    Your the best, thanks for sharing!!

  12. Happy birthday to your sister! And I hope you do get to take a fun trip someplace. (without the upset tummy part.)

  13. Thanks for commenting on Harriet & Magic and their green beans!!! Oh yes, Harriet see Magic licking her beans and it makes her mad!

    The floors are laminate and we had them put throughout the house last Feb. before we moved in. They are super easy to clean (with Windex)and the dog/cats can't scratch them!

  14. What a beautiful post filled with wonderful memories.

    I simply adore lookin' at the old photos. They do tell a tale for sure.

    Happy, Happy Birthday Freda Lou!!!

    God bless and have a stupendous day!

  15. I hope your family appreciates the jewel that this blog is for your precious family memories.

  16. Our lives are made up of froth and bubble...good and bad.
    Many things stand out in our minds while over things melt away.. You and your sister experienced very different lives, as most siblings do. I have two sisters and two brothers, and we all did different things at different times..thats life I guess.When I look at my own four children I see the same there. i was much harder on my elder daughter, and she was my wonderful helper. Today, she is the one who copes the best with life.
    Much love Crystal