Donna Ulisse

Singer, Songwriter, Bluegrass Poet

#9...Oh Brother!

Those were the days, well, until the day that the parents (two very dear, strange and stressed out individuals who seemed to need my two brothers and I desperately to bring some joy) sat us down in the den and told us that mom would be giving us a new baby brother or sister in a few months...WHAT? We didn't need another one of us! We had the three of us. What were they thinking? Me, Jimmy and Mark had our acts down to a tee, we were pros and this new development was going to be a BIG problem for the play book.

There was gnashing of teeth (well in Mark's case a tooth because half of his little chicklette teeth were missing then), stomping of feet, someone pulled my hair and there were tears that came with a very high pitched NOOOO from the three Ulisskateers! Where would this new thing sleep? How much of the toy budget would it require? Would my Bonna like this new one more than me and cause me to try to scratch its' eyes out? But wait, in the recesses of my mind a thought pushed its' way to the front of my imagination and screamed "YOU'VE ALWAYS HATED THE WAY BROTHER MARK LOOKED IN YOUR DRESSES"! (For years I had tried to make Mark my sister. I shoved his boy feet into my shoes, made him wear my old Easter dresses and drink pretend tea until he cried and told mom he wanted to go outside with Jimmy, little brat). This might work out nicely for me in the end. I would tell them I wanted a sister and that was that! That thought made me very happy.

For months after that I watched my mother's body be taken over by whatever was in there. Me and the bros decided not to go near her stomach for fear that she might explode. I had no interest whatsoever about what was going on, where it was going to come from, I just wanted the sister...could someone get mom to give me the sister now?

Then..."Jaws" theme please...there came the evening when I heard, "it is time"! I don't remember if there was a three stooges moment of mad dashing for suitcases, car keys, frantic running...those memories escape me now. I do however remember my daddy waking me up in the middle of the night and whispering to me that I had a baby brother...AAAAHHHHHHH. Not another one...NOOOO!...where was the SISTER? I WANT MY MOMMY!

To make matters worse, this new member of our family came into existence six days before my birthday. Horrors! I so vividly remember that my mother came home from the hospital two days before my birthday with a bundle of stink and scream. Yeah, look at the baby, look at the baby, whatever! I put up with it for the first couple of days. Sure, it was cute but mom wasn't gonna let me or my brothers touch it. "Stay away Donna, you can't pick him up, he's not a dollbaby", "Jimmy, get your filthy hands off of your baby brother", "Mark, if you try that again around your baby brother I'm gonna pop you" mom was gonna be hard on this one and Mark was the one most likely to wear her down first.

Okay, now I wake up and it's my birthday, my eleventh birthday! I had experienced ten before it and I knew the drill. Mom would rush in and sing the song before my toes would touch the floor. Dad would gush all over me when I came down the stairs. There would be a tiny, teaser present wrapped up beside my cereal bowl. Tweedle dee and tweedle dum would ignore me in proper fashion, seething that it wasn't their birthdays. The brothers were only interested in the actual "celebration", when it was cake time so they could try and blow out the candles before me and cause the same ugly scene year after year. My sweet Bonna would be on the phone first thing birthday morning telling me all about the day I was born and how she took one look at me and never, NEVER wanted to do anything bad again (I always meant to ask her what she did BEFORE she took that first look at me but alas, I only have my imagination now).

Well guess what? It's my birthday, my eyes are open and there's no singing. My feet hit the ground and still NO SINGING! I already suspect this neglect is caused by the dreaded THING in the bassinet! I creep downstairs and there they are...the parents...leaning over that bassinet looking silly, cooing BUT NOT SINGING! I clear my throat and they look at me dreamy like and say GOOD MORNING Sweetheart! Oh, there's a howdy doody! What? I think they forgot what day it is...I think that boy now giving this pitiful cry is distracting these two lovely people who are supposed to be singing to me. He, it, whatever it is has RUINED his diaper and my birthday.

All that day the front doorbell would ring and I would think, as I ran to open the door, that finally this would be someone coming to give me birthday wishes and presents. I would fling the door open wide with my head held back and a look of surprise at what I'm sure would be a gift bearer but no! The doorbell ringers would walk right past me saying, "where's the new baby?" I was devastated each and every time. That darn whiney baby! All day long this went on. I was all but forgotten.

My dad had worked all day and wasn't home so to make matters worse I had to be my mom's gofer. "Honey, can you get me this, get me that?, pick up that?, quit trying to kill Mark, tell Jimmy to come in this house this instant"...on and on. The sun started sinking on my already sunk spirits that day and no one had remembered. Just when I thought I was absolutely overlooked the front door eased open and a knight, my daddy, decked out in worn work boots and a flannel shirt came walking through holding a guitar case with a big red ribbon on it. My mom pulled herself off of the twin bed that had been set up in the living room and walked over by my dad and they sang happy birthday and handed me the guitar case. WOW...a guitar! They didn't forget me...they were beaming at me as I was dancing around, hopping from one foot to the other. A GUITAR! Of course it was over quickly as another cry called them away but baby Chris did let me have that one birthday moment so I suppose I could like him now! I still told myself I wouldn't be changin' no diapers...I had to draw the line somewhere.