As a child, I had a ritual of sitting on the front porch of Grandma and Grandpa Grosso's house and spinning an empty coke bottle. This is a memory I have never forgotten.
I clearly remember doing this on one warm September afternoon. As I watched the bottle spin, my attention was diverted to the sound of the sudden slam of a car door. I looked up to find my mother getting out of the old 1935 black Ford. Little did I know how different things were about to become!
Wrapped oh-so-carefully in her arms, mother was carrying a tiny bundle. I remember thinking that she must have been carrying glass, or else she wouldn't have been holding it so close to her heart. My curiosity about what she was carrying prompted me to jump to my feet and to go see what this prized possession was. Much to my surprise, it was a baby!
I remember seeing her small pink and round face, which was framed in auburn curls. At this moment I realized life would never be the same again. As adorable and cute as this baby appeared to be, she still managed to make nighttime something I would never soon forget. Nights were the worst. The sound of my little sisters' cries seemed to torture the entire household. I am not certain why she cried so often, but I remember the sounds heard in the night were always the same ... crying, voices murmuring, and feet shuffling across the floor.
This tiny little angel had to have a name. We had a cousin whose name was LeRoy. While this certainly wasn't a girls name, the Le part seemed to be catchy. I think this is how Mom came up with the name LeAnn. Dad had a sister named Mary, which is how LeAnn got her middle name. LeAnn Mary ... yes! Perfect!
Sunday mornings in our home were reserved for going to Mass at Presentation Catholic Church. LeAnn Mary was three years old now. I remember she wore a new dress to church, and it had a wire hoop in the bottom of the skirt. As she walked down the isle of the church, her dress rocked back and forth. But when she sat down the wire popped open, which prompted LeAnn to insist that the hoop be fixed. Mom gently told her, "Hush, not now." But LeAnn Mary wouldn't listen to mom, and she shifted from side to side, screaming at the top of her lungs, "FIX MY HOOP!" I could hear her voice echoing throughout the church. It then became so quiet that one could have heard a pin drop. I noticed mom's face was red as a beet, and she then picked up LeAnn to make a quick exit.
At the age of four, LeAnn had memorized the story "Pokey Puppy," as well as several other Little Golden Books. My brother Johnny and I thought it was a real pain in the neck to have to read to a younger sibling, so we would skip paragraphs or entire pages of a book so we could get through it faster. LeAnn didn't really know any different. But, by the time she was five years old, she got much smarter about our little trick. Le would place her hands on her hips and say, "That's not the way it goes. I'm telling Momma!" Little sisters tend to tattle on everything, and LeAnn was no different.
Every Saturday Johnny and I took LeAnn Mary roller skating at the Westwood Skating Rink. Mom even made a white satin skating skirt and a blouse that had a red heart on it for LeAnn. She wore white high top roller skates that came all the way to her knees. She looked so cute, and she quickly became the princess ... the pride and joy of the rink.
My life, as well as the lives of others who were close to LeAnn, has never been the same since that warm fall day in September 1950, when she was born. She was such a joy as a child and it was such a pleasure to watch her grow into the beautiful, loving, young woman
that she became. I will treasure all the memories I have of her and hold them close to my heart forever.