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I had a crush on him when he was an altar boy.  He seemed to notice me too because one late afternoon he came by my house with his bike and his papers from his paper route. (my home was not on his route!) I was in my favorite tree in the front yard of our 3 story, 21 room, Victorian home when I spotted him.

I stayed very still, I knew who he was instantly, I was petrified. But my heart was pounding and that must have given me away!  He looked up at me from the street.

“I know you,” he said.  “You go to the public school in town”.  (I knew he didn’t go to my school, since I would see him in his parochial school uniform outside his house, and I would purposely get up early on Sunday to go to the 7am mass where I knew he was serving, and I could see him in his altar boy robes. Talk about cute!) He went to Saint Agnes Catholic School ,which was the same church my family went to, and he lived on a street between my school and my home. Well, sort of….

“You are a Pop Warner cheerleader and you and your sister walk past my house with your little dog sometimes.”

I had a little brown Dachshund named Dutchess. She and I were inseparable.  We would go on long walks through town together, and sometimes, Cyd, my little sister would come too.

I was a tom boy and when all my class mates were wearing make up and googling around boys, I was climbing trees, roller skating down and around Condon’s Funeral Home (because they had the best black top driveway in town to skate on!) and playing at being a school teacher with my younger siblings on the front porch at home. So at that time, I have to say, that Duchess was my best friend. I had seen “Ricardo” as I called him, on the street near his home with his big beautiful Collie. I remember him calling his dog by name once. “Copper!’ he would call, and the dog would come bounding back to his side.

He was very proud of his dog and very attached. “Nice,” I thought, “very nice”….and kept walking, pretending not to notice. Oh, I was into animals too, big time…

“Yeah,” I managed to stammer, “I’ve seen you around too, I guess.” He related a few more things he “knew” about me to the branches above his head.  I have no idea what he said after that, I was too busy turning shades of crimson and pink.  There was a long pause after he said his piece……..Finally, he said, “Well, I have to go now. I’ll see ya!” and he rode away to deliver his paper to the Victorian hotel that was right next door to our house. It was a very old, very large, very creepy Victorian home turned into a hotel.  I guess he did have someone to deliver to on my street!

I remember feeling embarrassed, ecstatic, elated and in wonder.  He liked me? No, he doesn’t even know me, but he just got done reciting all the ways he did!  So, what now?  I waited in the crook of the tree for what seemed like ages until my mom called us all in for dinner.

I didn’t tell anyone about what happened except for my sister, Bambi. She and I were the closest of the siblings. There were 6 of us and I was a middle child and Bambi was 2 years younger than me.  We shared a bedroom together, a huge gorgeous bedroom with old radiators for heat with the metal sleeves over the top so you could sit on them if they weren’t too hot and get your butt warm, or warm up your clothes…

…and we had a fireplace with a built in bookcase on both sides of the mantle piece with a mirror above it.  I loved having a place to put my books, I was an avid reader.  My favorite books of all time were fairy tales. I would read them over and over again. My sisters Shelly and Mindy shared a room, their room didn’t have a fireplace but they had an absolutely enviable walk in closet that could be it’s own bedroom by today’s standards.  My brother John had his own room overlooking the little balcony in the front of the house and my little sister Cyd was just a baby. Her room was adjoining my mom’s room which was the master bedroom. I swore Bambi to secrecy …..

The next day Bam and I were walking home from school, I was in 6th grade and Bambi was in 4th.  She said,” let’s walk home past Ricardo’s house. ”   I suspected something, so I said, “No, not today.” She said, “Well, I am going that way.”  But she didn’t have a chance to, before either of us knew it we were coming up fast to meet face to face with Rick.  He was walking down the street as we were walking up.  I was embarrassed enough to be that close to him, and tried to act natural, you know, pretending I needed to watch my shoes as I walked?  Bambi and I just passed him when Bambi turned around and yelled “Hey, you know my sister really likes you?!”

I was mortified! I booked up that hill to my house faster than I ever have and I could still hear her as she screamed her betrayal.  “Yeah, she really likes you and she thinks you’re cute too!  Do you like her? Do you think she is cute?”  I could have died!!!

When we both got home, I laid into her, but Bambi just laughed. And laughed. So, I went out to climb my tree.

I didn’t actually get the courage to go out with Rick at that time, (yes, kid’s were dating in those days at 12 years old, who knows what they did?!) I didn’t date anyone until I was well into my high school years anyway, and he never asked until much later. But when he did ask, we hit it off quite well….

…and a couple of years later we had our first child. Her name is Laura, named after Rick’s mom who had recently passed.  As a small child we nick named her Dovie. It stuck…..and then there were 3!