THE BABY OF THE FAMILY

Billy was indisputably the baby of the family

for twelve years;

Now, there were five of us children

and two adults

sitting around the kitchen table,

the baby sitting in a wooden high chair,

next to mom,

spilling his milk (UNTIL A NEW RULE

WAS PASSED AND NO ONE WAS ALLOWED

TO HAVE MILK DURING SUPPER)

and smearing creamed spinach

on his hands and his face

and the wooden tray-top to

the high chair,

or chewing on a chicken leg.

Additionally, it should be mentioned

that he was born on mom’s birthday

in 1946,

which gave him one-up-manship

that none of the rest of us

could compete with.

How could you compete with

being born on mom’s birthday

when you weren’t?

To make matters worse,

when he was only two or three years old

he became very sick,

and spent what seemed

like a very long time

in the hospital.

At first they thought

he had polio

and then decided

it was a virus.

To the best of my knowledge,

his illness was never fully diagnosed.

He was thin and spindly forever after.

Billy wore a cowboy hat,

and had a cap gun and holster

and would request a new cap gun

and holster for Christmas every

year. His aim was–unquestionably—

to grow up and become a cowboy.

But likeable? oh yes, likeable–

so no one could resent him

for being adorable

or mom’s favorite.  He quite often

wouldn’t go to sleep  until mom

responded to his question “Do you

love me and like me?”

We called him the baby of the family.

And even though two more siblings

were born in 1957 and 1961,

Billy maintained his status

as baby of the family

forever after in our eyes—

and he did become a cowboy.

 

 

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