I never knew my Grandpa Charlie. A tailor in the garment district of New York City's Lower East Side, he died two weeks before my little sister was born. She was named Caroline in honor of him.
My grandfather exists in my mind through Grandma Minnie's wedding pictures--quite the 1930s gentleman with a flair for fashion, a confident gait and a sly look.
Delivered in the hospital on my third birthday (yes, we are exactly three years apart), Caroline's birth is my first memory.
Aware it was my birthday and the importance of having one as well as the fringe benefits associated, one can imagine my devastation at the conspicuous absence of both my parents. Rather, my great Aunt Octavine celebrated with me. I received first a Fisher Price record player, and then a baby sister.
Forced to then share all birthdays following, every year "our" birthday celebration included all the neighborhood children. With the Fisher Price record player in tow, we endlessly played musical chairs outside. My mother dressed us in matching Victorian style dresses in differing colors and put our hair in ringlets. Great Aunt Octavine made a cherry cake (white cake with maraschino cherries in the batter and pink icing and maraschino cherries on top) and we would blow out the candles...together.
Most of the presents consisted of Barbie and Tracy (Barbie with brown hair--a favorite among us brunettes) dolls. My mother, not thrilled with the whole Barbie idea, only let us keep one each. My father then stashed the rest. To this day, hidden in the depths of some closet lie various late 1970s and early 1980s Barbie and Tracy dolls, still in their original packaging.
My sister and I are very close and live only minutes away from one another albeit not in our hometown. We still celebrate "our" birthday ever year together and sometimes even wear matching outfits. I think Grandpa Charlie would laugh.