Saturday, February 16, 2008

Brain Infection

My little sister is...well, there's really no other word for it...a character. Perhaps it's because my mother meant to name her that fine old Irish appellation, "Maeve," but Mama's synapses misfired that day and she accidentally called her middle daughter "Maeva."

A precocious child, Maeva established herself with authority by rolling off a bed at the ripe old age of six weeks. That early mishap was a precurser of things to come. She has a long string of ...well, shall we say, misadventures ... to her credit. There's the time that she got thrown off of her bicycle up onto the Y shaped prongs on top of a chain length fence -- resulting in an ugly gash to her chin. There was also the time that she was helping our dad unload a sewing machine from a truck. It fell out of the crate and hit her in the head. At the hospital, the attending physician asked her how she got hurt and she said, "I got hit in the head with a sewing machine." The man tied a knot in the suture and took a deep breath before saying, "Just jumped right up there and hit you, did it?"

Then there was the time that the light fixture fell off the ceiling and hit her in the head and the time that she pulled the fire alarm outside my dorm room at the University of Arkansas. The thing of it is -- it's always some strange quirk of fate, nothing that one could predict or avoid -- like the time she accidentally exposed herself to Missouri -- but I digress.

Maeva has a way with language -- like the time when we went to the drive-in movie and we were jostling for position in the back seat. She whined, "Da-ad, Joycie is sitting on both sides and spread out all over the middle." I think it's just that she gets caught up in the spirit of the moment, suddenly realizes that she's in over her head, and then tries to talk her way out. Chatting with Maeva is akin to conversing with Mr. Spock. It's fun but you have the feeling that you are dealing with someone from another planet.

Despite her penchant for disaster and her unfotunate command of the English language, Maeva grew up beautiful and shiny. There's really no one else like her in the world -- and I'm blessed to have her for a sister. Oh, I learned to stay out of her way -- just in case a stray lightning bolt should miss her and hit me or she should suddenly feel the need to explain why horseradish isn't made out of horses.

The thing that's hard for me to grasp at this point in my life is that Maeva is now a grandmother. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but there you have it. Her son Billy married a pretty young woman named Amanda and they had three children -- Kent, Gracie and Amos. Ever so often, Maeva sends me stories about her relationship with this adorable trio. Between their innocent chatter and Maeva's singular view of the world -- well, you can imagine. When I get her emails, I first go the bathroom. Then I go to the kitchen and pour myself a large glass of mint green tea. Then I check to make sure there are plenty of tissues in the Kleenex box before I finally sit down to read their latest adventures. I suggest that you do the same before you finish this blog.

This is the email that Maeva (known as Mimi to her grandchildren) sent me last week:

"I watched the kids last Friday after work and I took them home around 7:15 so that they could get in bed at 8:00. On the way, Kent and Grace were having this bizarre conversation.

Kent: Mimi, my dad won't let Gracie have a boyfriend until she is 20.
Gracie: I know. I really want to kiss a boy.
Kent: Yuck. I guess you will just have to be pregnant.
Gracie: I guess I will just have to be pregant. Kent, what does pregnant mean?
Kent: It means you don't have a boyfriend.
Mimi: Wait just a minute, that isn't what pregnant means.
Kent: What does it mean?
Mimi: It means that there is a baby growing in your tummy.
Kent: Gracie, you better not do that, Dad won't like it.
Gracie: Okay.
Kent: Mimi, I need to talk to you about something. I saw a guy on TV who lost his job and his girlfriend loved somebody else so he shot a bunch of people and killed himself. Why did he do that?
Mimi: (Mind was desperately searching for an answer) Oh, that guy had a brain infection.
Kent: Oh!
Gracie: OHHHHH!
Kent: Mimi, how do you get a brain infection?
Mimi: (Oh crap!) Well, it happens when you are really sad and ...
Kent: I have been really sad when my dog ran away and I cried and cried until I threw up....
Mimi: Oh, you didn't have a brain infection!
Kent: How do you know when someone has a brain infection?
Mimi: (why did I ever say brain infection) Well, they scream, cry, bang their heads against the wall and they don't recognize any of their family.
Kent: You mean like my dad wouldn't know who I was if he had a brain infection?
Mimi: Yes, but your dad does not have a brain infection.
Gracie: Mimi, does someone with a brain infection kidnap kids?
Mimi: Yep. (I am in so much trouble.)
Kent: I bet that if you had Jesus in your heart then you wouldn't get a brain infection.
Mimi: That is right.
Kent: I have Jesus in my heart. I love him more than my mom and dad.
Gracie: I love him more.
Mimi: That's right, if you have Jesus in your heart you never have to worry about whether you have a brain infection or not.
Kent: That is right.
Gracie: I think that those people with brain infections say, Grrrrrrr, I hate the world.
Amos: Grrrrr I hate the world.
Mimi: (Oh crap!)

Next day:
Amanda calls. She says that she took to the kids to Old Navy and on the way she went through the rules. No running, No screaming. No hiding from Momma. Kent interrupted her. Mom, you don't ever have to worry about me hiding from you again in a store. I am afraid of those people with the brain infections. Gracie pipes in, "me too." Amos, "I scared of the brain infection man". Amanda asks me if I have anything I want to explain.

Man, those kids will rat you out every time."

I told you to go the bathroom first, didn't I?
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