CHARM

PHOTO: MARY AND JEAN AT TIME OF BIRTHDAY PARTY

When I was seven and Mary was eight years old, Mary and I were invited to a birthday party at a house that was large enough to hold many children.  After the cake and ice cream and the opening of presents, all the children were led in playing games by the mother and aunt of the birthday child.  We were instructed to form a circle for a game of “Flying Dutchmen.”   One little boy who was from some other place and didn’t know the other children was shyly standing back seemingly afraid to join the circle.  My sister Mary smiled at him and held out her hand to bring him into our group.  I looked at her in astonishment and admiration.  What a generous and kind thing to do!  And brave too!  I, myself, was too shy to have offered my hand to a strange boy.  I have forgotten who had the birthday and only vaguely remember where the house was, but I have never forgotten that moment.  I have later thought that the shyness I felt was perhaps not only fear but also a form of self absorption.  Mary was a role model for me and although she later became very rigid in her religious and moral beliefs, she was generous all her life.