Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Button Head

Tomorrow is my little sister's 39th birthday, so I thought it'd only be fitting to write about her.  I used to call her Button Head--mostly because of her fear of buttons.  How weird is that?  She's still the only person I've ever known to be afraid of buttons.  Literally, she owns none.  Her clothes have zippers, or snaps, or velcro.  No buttons, for the Button Head.

Us in Michigan in 1975--Joelle, Me, Chris, and Melanie

I remember when we were little, playing CHIPS on our bikes.  I was always Ponch and she was John.  We used rocks as our CBs, fighting crime on our Wisconsin dirt road.  When we played Little House on the Prairie, I was Laura and she was Carrie--my older sister would be Ma and my brother would be Pa.  In all actuality, he was only playing to "protect us" from the "bears"--in other words, he wanted to shoot out the windows of our playhouse with his gun.  Which he did.  Yeah.   I'll never forget the time when "Ma" went into the house to bring us all lunch.  She proceeded to grab a suitcase, put four bowls in it, fill the bowls with soup, close the suitcase, then went to carry it out to the playhouse!  Yeah, soup didn't fare so well.  There was the time when the four of us decided we were going to run away from home.  This took place in Green Bay.  After packing all of our stuffed animals (of course we were only going to take what was important), three of us jumped onto the banana seat of my sister's bike, with my little sister on the handle bars.  We took off into the cornfield, not lasting very long on this adventure.  The bees came, we started fighting and made our way home.  There was always something going on with the four of us.  I remember always being jealous of the close relationship between her and my older sister when we were kids.

As teenagers, I remember moving to Rhode Island and taking on a different big sister role.  From the small Wisconsin school to the big city school, there were a lot of changes.  She got picked on all the time.  I remember getting into the faces of many girls--having to intimidate them in order for them to leave her alone.  I remember kids calling us M & M and thinking we were twins, although I'm 2 years and 9 months older than she is.  We look the most alike.   I remember threatening some of the guys that liked her--feeling as though I needed to protect her.  And when my older sister and I were out reeking havoc, the Button Head was more of a homebody--not wanting to go to the clubs. There was still a wild side of her--like the time when my parents took us girls to Mt. Tom for our first skiing trip.  They stuck us all in ski school, which we felt we were above.  After one run down the bunny slope, the three of us said, "Screw this," and headed up the lift.  I remember falling down the entire mountain the first five or so times.  At the top the only way down was a black diamond, but if you took the corner about 100 yards down, you could jump onto a blue--which is what we kept doing.  If you missed the corner, it was one of two choices--1) Black diamond the rest of the way down or 2) Fly off the cliff.  I remember on the 6th time, my little sister eased around the corner with no problem.  She just picked up on skiing immediately.  My older sister was second and wiped out at the corner.  I was the third in line and decided I needed to head straight for my sister, with the hopes of either missing her or hitting her.  Whichever, didn't matter to me, as long as I didn't fly off the cliff or have to fall down the black diamond the entire way down the mountain.  I remember missing my sister and flying off the side of the mountain.  It was as though the world was suddenly in slow motion--boots, skis and poles went flying.  I hung onto the cliff and remember Joelle's head peering over the ledge with her yelling, "ARE YOU DEAD?"  The ski patrol had to "rescue" me and the three of us girls were banned from the mountain.  Not a good day!  haha  My parents wanted to kill us.

One of the cows on her farm--SO cute!
I remember knowing my sister was pregnant before she told us--and when I told my mom she was.  I remember my mom getting all upset with me, then getting the phone call two days later, then mad at me for not telling her sooner.  It wasn't that my sister had told me first, I had just known.  I remember when she moved back to Wisconsin, and despite all of my pleas, never returning back to Rhode Island.  I remember envying her independence--she was so unafraid to venture off on her own.  I remember thinking she had lost her mind when I learned she was going to marry a farmer, and do all the duties on the farm herself.  And watching her milk the cows, help with birthing, stories of her getting kicked--it never fazed her.  There are things she has done that I'd never have the gumption to do.  It's admirable.

Austin's team in 2008

When her youngest son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, she jumped in wholeheartedly.  She gave him shots every day (now he's on the pump), changed the family's diet, and did things that just amaze me.  She raises money for the cause, and walks with her family every year.  Here I'm afraid when a kid coughs and she's so unafraid.  Once again, it's just admirable.  Seriously, admirable.

And when I think of my little sister, I miss her terribly.  I miss our jokes, our laughter, our discussions.  I miss the way our family just is when she's around--when her entire family's around.  This past summer, when we went to Wisconsin for the first nephew graduation, on our last day we stood in her family room going through her shoes.  The girl has a serious shoe collection--makes mine look meek in comparison.  When the time had come to say our good-byes, I looked over at my little sister, who had started to cry.  Immediately, my older sister and I started crying and ran over to hug her.  And we stood there, hugging and crying, already missing each other.

Fun moment in May 2011--Amanda, Joelle, Me, Melanie,  and Austin (in front) all holding Mikey!
So know, little sister, that you're always missed.  You're always thought of.  You're always loved.  Happy birthday, Button Head!


  1. Mere,
    Thanks for the story. Very funny and touching. But my fear began with you. When u would hold me down and put that bag of buttons in my face. Remember that? And when u would chew on buttons I thought I would puke. So thank you for my fear! LOL
    Have a good one. Love you,

  2. Oh hell, I don't remember that! haha Well, now that you mention it... Sorry, little Bowel! Love you too! ~Mere

  3. Ohh, I remembered something else--while your fear of buttons began with me, my fear of puke began with you. Do you remember when we lived in Bethel and we shared the bedroom? Your stomach was hurting, and you asked if you could crawl in with me. Which, being the kind, loving, wonderful sister that I am, I let you. And you laid there moaning and asked me to rub your belly--which I did. And then you hurled all over me, the bed, you--SO gross. Now I'm terrified of puking and refuse to ever rub anyone's belly if it's hurting... Ahhh...memories! haha! Love you!

  4. Sorry about that but it was funny. It's funny how we started our own fears like how I'm deathly afraid of spiders thanks to watching you let them crawl all over you. Gross!!! But Ill take all me fears because I'm always reminded of you. Love ya sis!!