A Special Birthday – A Children’s Story

(I dedicate this story to my Great Niece, T, who shares a special birthday.)

Once upon a time, on a chilly November 2nd, a baby was born. This was a beautiful baby! Word spread quickly throughout the town as this was a special day.

From a telephone booth at the hospital, the daddy excitedly called the grandparents at home. The grandparents called the family members, and the family members called the friends. Soon everyone knew that the baby had been born on November 2nd.

Good news travels fast!

The proud and happy parents named their beautiful chubby baby Carl Vincent, II, after his Daddy. His blue eyes were just like his Mommy’s eyes, and he had brown hair just like his Daddy’s hair. He was a happy baby who liked to laugh, and he loved his family.

Carl Vincent, II grew up loving music. When he was a boy, he studied guitar. First, he played an acoustic guitar, and later he bought himself a beautiful electric guitar. It was very fancy and very fine. He played slow songs and fast songs and serious songs and silly songs and old songs and new songs. He made great music.

When a singer named Elvis Presley became famous, Carl Vincent, II played and sang just like him. He even danced like Elvis. When cousins came over to visit, Carl Vincent, II played his guitar and everybody sang. Every time Carl Vincent, II pulled out his guitar, there was a little family party with lots of music and singing and laughter!

One day, Carl Vincent, II met a wonderful woman named Janis. Janis also liked to sing and play the guitar. The couple was very happy together and were married in the presence of their loving family and friends. After the beautiful ceremony, the younger family members decided to go for a swim in the family pool because it was quite warm outside. Now most people do not go swimming at weddings, but Carl Vincent, II saw the children in the pool, picked up his guitar, walked very close to the edge of the pool and began to serenade the children. Everyone loved this! He even played Rock ‘n’ Roll.

So Carl Vincent, II and Janis loved their family, and their friends, and music, and laughter. And they loved something else — Animals. Mikey, a gorgeous green macaw with colorful, long tail feathers, lived in the dining room in his large birdhouse. He enjoyed watching people when they entered the house and everyone said hello to Mikey. Was Mikey a clever and funny bird? Yes!

From his birdhouse, Mikey liked to call Carl Vincent, II. “Carl, Carl,” he exclaimed, and Carl Vincent, II and Janis would laugh. Sometimes it sounded like the microwave was beeping, but really it was just Mikey making the b-e-e-p sound. When the telephone rang, Mikey said, “Hello.” “Hello.” And when Janis stroked his beautiful feathers, Janis and Mikey would both sing, “That feels g-o-o-d!” Every time someone approached the big birdhouse, Mikey would bob his head up and down; he loved his family and his friends.

On one chilly November 2nd, Janis gave Carl Vincent, II a special birthday present. It was gray in color, had four legs, was very soft, and meowed and purred. Carl Vincent, II named his new kitty “Mrs. Jingles the Cat,” and she lived in the house, too, except she didn’t sleep in the birdhouse with Mikey.

Mrs. Jingles the Cat loved to jump on the sofa and relax with Carl Vincent, II and Janis. Purring like a little motor, she stretched her legs and rolled on her side when they stroked her soft, smooth, pretty, gray fur.

While Mrs. Jingles the Cat and Mikey may not have been best friends, they did well for a cat and a bird. Both animals liked it when Carl Vincent, II played his guitar. The kitty swished her tail, and the bird bobbed his head up and down. When family and friends visited, the animals enjoyed the little party with lots of music and singing and laughter.

Mikey liked special birthday parties most, because the dining room table was right next to his birdhouse. While he nibbled on his favorite delicious little birdie num num treats, everybody sitting around the table nibbled on delicious lemon meringue pie, Carl Vincent, II’s favorite birthday treat. Afterwards, Carl Vincent, II would play his guitar and Mikey would dance a little dance, bobbing his head up and down while people sang and laughed.

Mrs. Jingles the Cat was happy, too. She swished her tail and stretched her legs and rolled on her side as the children stroked her soft, smooth, pretty, gray fur, even while she was hiding under the bed! Purring like a little motor, the children knew that she was saying, “That feels g-o-o-d!”

The End

This book is also dedicated to the memories of my brother and my sister-in-law, the coolest people ever!

Kathy Galgano

Original Copyright November 1, 2013,  Renewed Copyright November 2, 2014

All Rights Reserved

Kathleen M. Galgano

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Music to Wake Up By

First, she would call up the stairs multiple times in that musical, sing-songy voice that was loud but not unpleasant, the one that changed a one syllable name into two. She began, as most do, with the higher tone and ended with a lower one, probably three to five pitches down on a scale. Then, after no response, my mom would grab a spoon or fork from the drawer in the kitchen and rap on the water pipes on the wall near the sink with a quick staccato burst. The plumbing went straight up to my big brother’s bedroom, and this rapid metallic tap, tap, tap oftentimes would be jarring enough to break through my teenaged brother’s deep, deep sleep. Other times, she would just stand there and bang the pipe with the fork or spoon at a steady but slower beat that would make any percussionist proud – donk,   donk,   donk,   donk,   donk  for a minute or two minutes or maybe longer until you’d hear a harsh, loud, and anything but melodious “I’M  AWAKE” roared from the second story.

But when it didn’t work, Plan C called for a run upstairs to yell my brother’s name and shake his shoulder to get him up. We kids performed this task and usually, after two or three tries, it was enough to elicit a mumbled response about “getting up now.” If my brother, tired from playing a guitar gig late at the supper club in a band with three other talented young men, and tired just because teens are supposed to be tired, only rolled over and continued his slumber, my mother would have to resort to the ultimate maneuver.

Enter my sister. Another talented young musician, she could play any song at all on the piano, in any key. She studied piano and music theory, and also played the fife in a marching band and had taken up drumming. She could sight read music, sing the lead, sing harmony, play classical, play modern, play boogie-woogie, play anything, and even arrange music. Ask her to play a song, and with no music, no practice, no hesitation, she’d play it perfectly. Expertly. With my brother on the guitar and my sister on the piano, there were plenty of impromptu jam sessions in our living room. Now I don’t recall my sister playing Elvis on the piano like my brother did on the guitar; he would entertain my younger brother and me with a great “Jailhouse Rock.” But she would play everything else.

So, when all else failed, my mother would request that my sister play the piano. Could it be that the shared love of music between two talented siblings created such a bond that my brother could not resist the opportunity to play guitar, to make music, even in a semi-wakeful state?

This is a teenager we’re talking about. My sister would sit down at the old upright piano that belonged to my mother’s grandfather, and start banging out “Downtown,” a fun, catchy tune sung by Petula Clark that was getting a lot of airplay. But was it enough to wake up my big brother?

No. We are talking about my sister’s foolproof strategy. She played the right hand, the melody, in one key, and the left hand accompaniment in another key. Sometimes she would sing, maybe in a third key, “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, You can always go… Down-town.” The whole experience was jarring. It was gut-wrenching. It was agonizing.

And after a brief musical introduction and only a line of the song, my brother would come barreling down the stairs, running and yelling, “Stop it.”Stop it!”

And my mother would just smile.