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The day I got a little sister.

Last night, as I got the bus home from work, I got really choked up as the clock turned midnight.
Perhaps because I'd been checking product dates all day, I was painfully aware of what date I was stepping into, or perhaps because I had just returned from a trip to Ireland I was painfully aware of it all. I don't know. It's not important.

When I went to bed last night, I started to think about my sister a little more. A lot more. I remember the day she was born. Isn't that weird? I was only 3 years old but I remember. Mam was on the phone from the hospital to Da, and he asked my brother and I if we wanted to speak to our mammy. Naturally we both jumped at the chance to say hi. Our telephone at the time was in the hallway and was a few feet from the ground, so my brother and I had to stand on a chair to speak into it. As the eldest I went first and gushed and oohed as I thought was appropriate. I hopped off my chair and gave the floor to my brother. I was unprepared for what came next. While I had been saying my piece, he had been composing a song. Now, it was a basic do-ray-me- repetitive with the name Marguerite sang with each syllable to a note Mar-guer-ite.  I was devastated that he had thought of that and not me. I won't lie, I probably punched him afterwards when my Dad wasn't looking.

When Marguerite was just starting to walk, my brother and I took great pleasure in holding her upwards by her arms and passing her to each other as she tried to move her feet. Naturally when you are four and three, safety isn't a high priority and we would do this on the couch in our sitting room. I remember Mam caught us doing this one day and give us a good scolding and told us that while it was great that we were helping Marguerite walk, we must do it on the floor. About a week later, sitting on the couch, we started playing this game again. Next thing Marguerite took her first steps. The dilemma set in, did we tell Mam that Marguerite just took her first steps or not? If we did we were going to have to lie which would then turn our tongues black (because lies do that you know). I don't remember what the outcome was, I think we just risked it and lied!

The great love affair of my sister's childhood (don't all little girls have great love affairs) was with a boy named Cillian. Rather than dismiss this encouraged relationship (mother's are best friends), Marguerite and Cillian embraced it. We have countless pictures of them kissing on a kiddie train at the zoo, holding hands walking somewhere, all of them probably staged by the parent holding the camera. The great love affair took a terrible tumble in our kitchen one morning. Both Marguerite and Cillian had been given The Big Red Fun Bus by Santa Claus. On this particular day, after one of their arguments (all childhood lovers have them you know), Cillian ran at the bus and kicked it against the kitchen wall. Marguerite was not impressed and more or less told Cillian that it was over. It took a lot of repair from his side before Marguerite stopped talking about the day he kicked The Big Red Fun Bus.

Photo: Another classic Christmas must-have from the 80s. The Big Red Fun Bus - 'like' if you had one or always wanted one !!

As Marguerite got older she turned from Marguerite to Mags (never Maggie) and became a fashion conscious diva (in the best possible way). I remember once I was getting ready for a party or possibly a ball and my sister was in the flat as I was beautifying myself. At the time I was living on the docks in Galway, and Mags would come and stay with me and yes, hit the nightclubs of Galway with us. Anyhoo, I emerged from the bedroom and walked into the living room. My boyfriend at the time told me a looked lovely. I smiled. I turned to my sister to show her my makeup. She took one look at me and said "Lu, just because you live down the docks doesn't mean you have to look like a hooker". I quickly washed the make-up off and started again.

My favourite memory, though it is definitely in hindsight, is the Easter that I spent in hospital. I was given loads and loads of eggs from everyone. I had them all piled up in a pyramid ready to be eaten at my leisure. I think I had about 22. One day, Marguerite's best friend Caoilfhionn (Keelan to non-Irish readers) came to visit. Now Marguerite and Caoifhionn were like two peas in a pod. When something embarrassing happened to one the other would cringe in sympathy rather than laugh in their face, something my poor best mate has to endure to this day. When they were plotting something naughty, there was no point in even trying to stop them. You couldn't. Aware of this visit, I went upstairs to my room after I came home from wherever I had been. There was a trail of Easter Egg wrappers and chocolate from my room to Marguerite's. I ran inside my room to see my pyramid in smithereens. Any egg that was uneaten was trampled upon so it resembled chocolate crumbs. Everything else was gone. I ran to her door and banged my fist upon it. She slowly opened it to reveal her mouth smeared with chocolate. Behind her Caoilfhionn's face was smeared with chocolate. They still had the audacity to deny stealing my eggs... I think I may even have gotten in trouble for eating them. The part that cracks me up is that they always denied it. Always. Caoilfhionn only came clean at Marguerite's funeral. Now that is dedication to a deceit! 

One of my proudest moments was when I found an essay she wrote about someone who inspires her and that person was me. It was wonderful reading how she saw me in her own words. It was lovely to think that my little sister looked up to me. I don't have that essay but my gosh, I would give almost anything to get it again. It was such a special thing to read.

The week before she died Marguerite helped me write a paper on Samuel Beckett. When I say helped, we would act out scenes together and see how they looked. It was a week of fun and laughter. Our brother brought us lunch every day and all three of us would eat together before he would return to work and we would get back to my paper. I ended up getting an 'A' in that paper. While that 'A' came in very handy, Samuel Beckett will always remind me of that week with my sister. It was a week where we re-connected on an adult level, where I saw her beautiful spirit for what it was and where my brother and sister and I enjoyed each others company as equals rather than in sibling hierarchy.

On that note, 
Happy birthday little sister,
I hope you know just how much I miss you.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your sister. This made me cry as I thought of my own little sister, who, by the way, looks a lot like your picture of Marguerite.

    1. Thank you Emily! I think all sisterly relationships are build on similar bricks aren't they? It is pretty cool that your sister looks like Mags in that picture, she must have amazing cheekbones! I hope you and the rest of Team Ochoa are doing great, those kiddies of yours are looking cuter with every photo you post! x


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