Tuesday, March 9, 2010


March 9 is a very special day for me. It is Sicily's due date, although she wasn't born until the 10th. I worked right up until her due date, and was induced the next day. Didn't want her, or me, to overcook.

It's also special because it is my youngest brother Matt's birthday. On the day he was born I was 10, and had just spent the night at my best friend Melinda's house. We woke to a light snowfall. I remember staring out her 1980's Lakewood subdivision kitchen window in awe, when her mother walked over to me after a phone call.

"Gizabeth? Your dad was going to pick you up, but plans have changed. You will stay here with us for the day, and then we are taking you to your grandparents to spend the night. You have a new baby brother, Matthew. Congratulations."

Melinda was my super-smart Chinese-American Montessori friend. I lost touch with her when she left to go to high school in North Little Rock, but remember learning somehow that she was valedictorian of her high school class and got a scholarship to a fancy Northeastern Ivy League school. So I was pleasantly surprised to come to the realization during training that one of my Chinese born attendings at the VA was her dad. It took us a few months to puzzle that one together, even though we had spent many hours looking at cases over the scope. He was thrilled to recall carpooling me and her daughter to the mall - we spent hours checking out punk fashions, eating pretzels at the German beer pub, and buying cotton candy Jelly Bellies, our favorite.

Dr. Fan, a dry, witty man with an eternal smile and seemingly permanently closed eyes that I always thought might have benefited from blepharoplasty (how could he see through the scope?) announced: "We have to call her! You have to talk."

I remembered Dr. Fan when I was ten - a peripheral dad (to me) who took second string to interacting with his daughter's friends. I knew he had something to do with medicine, but had no idea he was a pathologist. As I caught up with Melinda on the phone, I was excited to learn that she was a breast pathologist at Harvard. The apple never falls far from the tree.

During my training, Dr. Fan had emergency double surgery - a CABG and AAA. As far as I know and hope, he is still retired and happy.

The changes between Sicily at 6 and 7 are astounding. She has turned into a teenager - staying up late after lights-out reading chapter books, and dragging out of bed in the morning. Creating a.m. chaos that recently necessitated the initiation of a b-mod project in my house - Sicily and Jack both happily collect and count tickets that are daily doled out for morning and bedtime goals, ones that can be traded in at the end of the week for presents from a large pillowcase. Tattoos, funky monkey band-aids, barrettes, stickers, skull-decorated rubber duckies, you name it. It's working well so far, and Sicily enjoys adding and subtracting incurred tickets to determine if she will reach her weekly goal, so I like to think it is good for her math skills.

She is also coming into her own. She recently planned and hosted a sleepover for three of her friends, successfully guided and executed with my assistance. She's usually a good role model for her little brother. She keeps me in line with school activities and responsibilities. She is an amazing artist, a budding musician, and a joy to have around.

I recently got to spend some time with my brother in Atlanta. He has temporarily tabled his musical dreams - he is a bass guitarist - to learn the lawyer trade. He's doing well, and has a new girlfriend I first met over Christmas (she was valedictorian of her class, like you!). My favorite moment with him in Atlanta was sitting in the hotel room, waiting for my sister and his girlfriend to pick up some wine so we could chill out and wait for our 9:30 dinner reservations across the street. We talked more like adult friends than big sister and little brother. As the door cracked and Sara and Melissa entered, he quickly stood up from the bed and wandered over to my chair. Gave me a kiss on the cheek and rubbed my back. That simple gesture meant the world to me. I love him to death.

Happy Birthday Matt and Sicily!!!


rlbates said...

Happy Birthday to Sicily and Matt!

Gizabeth Shyder said...

I'll pass along those wishes - thanks!