They tell me that I didn’t crawl before I walked. I scooted.
That may explain a lot of things about me. You know what they say about having to crawl before you learn to walk.
I scooted because that’s what my cousin, Mary, did to get around.
Mary was born a year before I was and she’s never been able to walk like I can. When we were first learning to get around, Mary scooted on her bottom instead of crawling. And since she was older, I followed her example.
We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together growing up, but I loved the times that we saw each other.
Building sandcastles on the beach and selling lemonade to neighborhood kids in the summertime.
Drinking ginger ale out of plastic champagne glasses at midnight on New Year’s Eve, feeling so grown up and sophisticated.
Creating the world’s largest house for Barbie and Ken in Mary’s bedroom.
Her older brothers teased her constantly, but in a good way. One night while the oldest one was telling us a ghost story in the dark, the other brother dressed up like a monster and came bursting through the door to Mary’s room at the scariest part. Scared me so bad I nearly wet the bed.
Once we got over being scared, we laughed hysterically. Mary’s laugh was contagious.
We could spend hours piddling in Mary’s room. Talking. Not talking. Just being.
I loved that. When I spent time with Mary, I discovered another part of myself. A part that I didn’t always feel free to express. The part of me that was quite content to be quiet, still, thoughtful.
Mary taught me a lot. About not being afraid of differences. About contentment, even when life is not fair. About seeing beyond what the world labels a disability, to find extraordinary giftedness.
She also taught me to love rock candy.
Oh well. You can’t expect everything you learn to be good for you.
Maybe it’s a good thing I never crawled.
Happy Birthday, Mary.