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Happy Returns

by Maureen Glaude

For me, you were always there
don't know if you remember when I wasn't
four years my senior, you taught me much
treated me to my first big teddy bear

a few years later, I showed you the pajama dog
I had set my dreams on, from the Sears catalogue
you helped me organize and save allowances
pitched in, from your own
and soon Sandy, the plush puppy, was in my arms

remember racing around the playroom
on that realistic red tractor?
running your train in loops
on that huge pull-down plank Dad built for it
we'd all try to add cars or touch the caboose,
the hand car with the little worker men
each time they came by our noses again?

You brought books and theatre into our lives, big-time
with dramatic Mark Twain or Dickens' Scrooge orations
you had your ways of spooking but hooking sis and I,
transforming cottage curtain doors into puppet stages
once, when we were bored, fresh out of mysteries
to solve
you secretly ran a can-opener over a few quarters
grinding designs along the edges
then tossed the weird coins out beside the front steps
where we gullible girls deduced
we'd found ancient treasure

when we played cards, my hands at first too small,
over and over you'd help me to hold them all

'Hey Reen, run for a pass,' the most frequent call
your strong football arm sent me travellin far
tease me if you will, for upstaging in home movies,
I was the happy runt of four, close-knit souls
I knew even then I was blessed in those best of times
you navigated us 'round islands,table rocks and inlets
at Sand Bay; took the fish off our hooks
took us to pray at Sunday School
protector, muse, critic, ham
stocked with viking looks and blueblooded histrionics

I never feared bullies or abuse from anyone
my big brothers too well-known
still seeking to safe-guard me from peril and pain

you were steeped in the Bard, letters, academics
ahead of me
playing school, you brought my report card marks down
for daydreaming and then showed Mom.

In their teens, my best girlfriends
had secret crushes on you, I'm still finding out
about some of those, have you?

I hope this birthday finds you
kicking soccer balls with your three lads
and most of all, laughing deep belly laughs of old
still hearing your sisters and your brother
giggle in the halls or playing bridge
charades or board games over a cuppa tea

funny, growing up, I always knew I was lucky
and secure, our family esteemed
as if we lived on Bonanza's Ponderosa
(our favourite Sunday night show
along with Ed Sullivan and Red Skelton)
our sister, Marilyn, galloping around on all fours,
flames burning on the tv screen, for the Cartwrights,
and from our own fireplace, with Dad's colored logs

now it's the flames on your cake candles
we're gathering together to share
so Happy Birthday, Donald James
and cheers to big brothers and teddy bears


Author's Note: A little family poetry. Don't we all have some of these? His birthday was Feb. 26 but we're celebrating tonight.

Posted on 02/28/2004
Copyright © 2021 Maureen Glaude

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 02/29/04 at 06:07 PM

This is uncanny, as I was thinking the other day about writing a nostalgia piece about my childhood days that included watching the Dean Martin and Red Skeleton variety shows. I'm sure anyone with a big brother can relate to this in some way.

Posted by Ashok Sharda on 03/01/04 at 02:18 AM

'so Happy Birthday, Donald James and cheers to big brothers and teddy bears', your intellectual center gathering beautiful moments locked in those tiny little green rooms back stage, and your emotional center providing with the quality , blending this narrative piece with the feelings. This is a beautiful birthday gift, Maureen.

Posted by Charles E Minshall on 03/02/04 at 01:53 AM

Very good reading Mo. He is lucky to have a sister like you and you a brother like him. Happy birthday Don....Charlie

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 01/14/07 at 07:18 PM

What a wonderful tribute and poem of memories!

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