Monday, April 2, 2012

My Life Story: A Girl



My mother says the anguish of my birth went away the minute she discovered I was a girl.
"Mrs. Clark," they told her with the formality that came in such days, "you have a girl!"


All my life my mother talked to me of my birth like I had saved the planet just by being born a female. I had granted her wishes and made her dreams come true and every time she recounted the story her voice would sing.
"Oh I was so thrilled!"
Thrilled, the word she used with a distinctive upper case note.
To the family I had come, there was Steve 10, Matt 8, Page 6, Christopher 4, Andrew 2. The morning I was born my three oldest siblings made their way through the snow to school. After my arrival in the hospital, my mother called the school secretary and asked if her children could come to the office. Once they were huddled around the phone she shared the news with them,
"You have a new little sister!"
And then the part that always thrilled my middle child attention-loving heart: as my excited siblings headed back to class the school secretary announcement my birth over the PA system,
"Attention everyone! Steve, Matt and Page Clark have a new little sister!"
Of course, no one was excited for my gender more than my sister Page. Finally she had a sister. After years of brotherly torment there was going to be another girl to bring balance to family. True to her character--a natural in the talent of motherhood--Page took upon her the serious task of raising me. I quickly became her little protege.
The pictures of my life speak volumes to this. Photographs show me in the pool at Deseret Towers in my green swimming suit buoyed up by my brown-eyed sister. Here I am in dress ups, a voluminous white slip about my waist, a curly ginger wig on my head and Page, my wardrobe specialist, beaming behind me. And there we are post-church, Easter Sunday, in our Gunne Saxs holding hands.
There has been no one on this earth who's had a greater effect on me than my Page. Her resolve to be an example of how to be female--intelligent and deliberate--set me on a path of empowerment. It was Page who taught me the thrill of being unique, the importance of being intuitive and the ultimate satisfaction of being kind. Her sacrifices for me enabled me to choose faith over fear, leave an abusive marriage and ultimately bear children. I credit her for my strength, my voice  and my college degree. In my life story, she is the fairy godmother, her self-assurance like a wand over my insecure self.
Simultaneously, she has also been the recipient of my most aggravated moments, my greatest frustrations, my most explosive fights--not just as two little girls sharing space in the green walls of our gabled bedroom, but as adults, mothers and wives. We battle because we both share a determination to know right. To do right. To be right. And because of this passionate relationship, she has also been my mentor in forgiveness.
We have come to believe, Page and me, that our souls knew each other long before the day she met me in the hospital, her expectations of sisterhood unfolding before her, and me, bundled and bow-ed in pink.