You realize, don't you, that it's been a full *11* days since there has been a birthday post? In the realm of the Birthday Marathon, that's a kinda like 11 dog years ...
Anyway, today's birthday is my sister Mary Ellen. She is the middle sister, and has always been the one who was able to get along with all of us. Whereas Nancy and I were often on the brink of inflicting bodily harm on one another, both of us got along just fine with Mary Ellen (well, at least as far as I know - they're only a year apart in age, and I'm a few years behind them, so maybe they nearly killed each other on a regular basis before I was born ...).
Mary Ellen has always been The Smart One in our family. She majored in chemistry in college, and worked at NIH right after she got married. While her kids were small, she was a full-time mom, but at a certain point, went back to school and got a master's degree in education. Then she taught high school chemistry for quite a few years. (And more importantly, was never brought up on assault charges, like I would be if I had to spend even one hour with a bunch of high-school kids!) A couple of years ago, she decided she'd had it with the administration and politics of the school, and got a job related to environmental monitoring of ground water. It's the kind of job that I am pretty sure she has always wanted to have, and I'm sure she does it better than most people ever think of doing their jobs.
Mary Ellen has a wicked sense of humor. People often miss it, because if she doesn't know you, she's pretty quiet (leading some people to think she is The Quiet One as well ... actually she is quieter than the rest of us, but that's not saying much). But let me assure you, she can give as good as she gets, and it's a lot of fun to share a funny story or joke with her. (Tim is particularly fond of her, as she is one of his best audiences.)
This past year has been a big one for her, as two of her four daughters got married, one had a baby, and another one got engaged. Where lots of other people would have been stressed out the whole time, she just helped when she could, butted out when she couldn't, and otherwise enjoyed each experience for what it was.
I know that I could call Mary Ellen any time, from anyplace in the universe, and she would help me, no matter what the problem was. We don't see each other as much as I'd like to, and we tend to play phone tag a lot, but when we are together, or finally get on the phone, we talk like we just saw each other the day before. She is just the best, and I would be truly lost without her.
Happy Birthday, Mary Ellen! (And always remember - just because you are The Mother of the Bride, it doesn't mean you get better chocolate than the rest of us!)