Miracle on Massachusetts Avenue
by Maureen Power
They call me Patsy, but my real name is Patricia. They even put that stupid
nickname on my birthday cake today. At least they got the candles right - six red
ones. Mammie promised me they'd be red. I love her so much cuz she always tells
the truth. Even when no one believes her but me.
Like all the times she waves to those people that float by her chair in the parlor.
Daddy tells me to ignore her when I ask him who they are, because it's all in her
imagination. He says her head is confused because of how old she is, but I know
he's wrong because I can see them too. There's kids and grown-ups and one time
I even seen a dog. They kind of glow, like they're lit up from their insides. Mammie
says it's because the light of heaven touches them. Maybe that's why they're
always smiling at us.
Mammie's strapped into the Morris chair with one of Daddy's old belts so she
won't fall out, and they push it over to the table. She's real little so she don't weigh
much. She looks pretty with all the tinsel on her chair. It's leftover tinsel from the
Christmas tree. The tree was so tiny, it couldn't even take a whole box. So my big
sister Eleanor decided to use the rest to decorate Mammie!
That's another thing that stinks about my birthday. It's the day before Christmas,
so I only get one birthday present. Ma says I'm lucky to get anything at all, but
Daddy always comes through with something - even if it's just a couple of comic
books like last year.
Everybody sings "Happy Birthday To You" while I climb up on Mammie's lap so I
can reach the candles better. I blow them all out in one big breath. I guess that
means I get my wish, but I ain't telling what it is because then it won't come true.
When I look up, everyone's smiling and clapping except for Ma. She used to be
real nice to me when she first came, even giving me the extra blanket when it got
too cold. But now she's just an old sourpuss. My real mother is with the angels
because she died bringing me into this world.