Matilda In The Middle by Katy Lironi – Chapter 1 Part II
Walk on the Wild Side
I will attempt to keep this story to a linear narrative, but life is backwards and forwards and I imagine there will be lots of jumping around and noticing how the past has shaped the present and that maybe we did okay as parents after all and our kids have all grown up the way they are, not just in spite of the chaos, I’m sure it’s integral to who they are but maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing in the long run. Anyway, back to the very beginning. Let’s see just how much music – listening to, making, going to see and writing – has shaped the whole story. Here goes.
First a few words from the sisters…
My Little Sister by Amelia Lironi MacIntyre aged 16
It was a Thursday afternoon. Nothing special. Just doing my usual and pottering around in the garden or playing with my toys. I was three years old and had not a care in the world. I remember looking for insects in the garden, the dirt would get behind my nails and on my clothes but I didn’t care. All of that was about to stop.
My mum was in hospital with my dad. They were expecting a baby. My little sister.
My Nanna and Auntie Jo were at the house. They seemed to be sipping never ending cups of tea. My little brother Dugald and I were watching our favourite TV programme- the Tweenies.
I remember the phone call. I remember being told. My mouth went dry. My palms started sweating. The emotions were unbearable. I was being told that my little sister was ill, very ill. I didn’t know what to do or how to feel. Luckily everyone else did as they raced out to the car with terror and fear written all over their faces.
We drove to Wishaw hospital. There we were escorted to a cold and isolated room filled with glass boxes. I was completely oblivious to the fact that my sweet, pure, new little sister was being held captive by one of these metal monsters.
A tall, sharp doctor. White coat. Dark shoes. Stomp stomp stomp all the way over to us. “Hello little ones!” he bellowed down to me and Dugald with a grin so forced he could be the Cheshire cat. “We’re going to make your little sister better.” There was something fake about his voice, something that made me feel uneasy. He escorted me and Dugald out of the room and stated that he needed to have a ‘grown up’ conversation with my Nanna and Auntie. With that, the smile he had been forcing was wiped right off his face. I’ve always remembered it as the seasons changing, like if you’re in summer, in the back of your mind you know it can only get worse. The storm was coming.
I only heard a couple of words the doctor whispered – “small” “pneumonia” “collapsed lung” “coma” and “three weeks”. I was trying to make sense of all of this when my parents walked in. They had the same worried look on their face as when an antelope spots its cheetah killer. They came over and embraced us in a hug, the kind of hug only they could deliver.
They took us into a small quiet room located across the narrow hallway from the incubator room where we had encountered the doctor.
“We have something to tell you guys” my mum said. “It’s about your little sister. She has something called Downs syndrome.”
“It doesn’t mean she’ll be loved any less or more than you guys. It just means that she might need a wee bit of extra help sometimes,” followed my dad. I remember not really understanding. My little sister was still going to be my little sister. I didn’t care about her Downs syndrome, it made no difference in my head and never will. I just knew that I loved her and longed to meet her.
Matilda was in a coma for what seemed like a very long time to my three year old self. I remember going to visit her. She had tubes in her nose and mouth. She didn’t look like a baby, she looked like an experiment and I hated it. I wanted everyone to leave her alone and let her actually begin her life. She lay there motionless for a week. I remember going to visit her and just having to stare at her lifeless body. She wore a baby grow with a little yellow hat. That is my most potent memory of her, that little yellow hat was her little yellow guardian angel. All those nights that she spent alone in that room, the sign of life was her little yellow hat. Yellow, the colour of spring, we were starting to wonder if we wouldn’t stay in the darkness of winter forever. That little yellow hat gave everyone hope…
One incredible day Matilda moved her pinkie toe on her right foot. Everyone was shocked and overwhelmed. From that day on my world changed.
Matilda and I were inseparable. I remember helping her tie her laces on those little red trainers she always used to wear. I introduced her to all my favourite things. Gymnastics is our joint favourite. You feel like you are flying when you’re flipping through the air. That was something I wanted Matilda to feel. I wanted her to feel free. Her personal forte is flexibility and she’s never afraid to demonstrate her talent.
Matilda’s first day of school is something I’m never going to forget. I remember clutching her tiny hand all the way till she waltzed into her classroom, confidence seeping through her skin, (a trait that I’m rather envious of.) It was so difficult letting her go. I felt like I had to take on the parenting role once Matilda was at school. She came bursting out of her classroom at the end of the day and I could finally breathe. The pressure was overwhelming me all day but all the worry was taken from me at that moment. I didn’t need to protect her anymore.
Today, she’s unrecognisable as the small, motionless baby that she used to be. She is the girl who goes into Glasgow with me to see her favourite band- One Direction. The girl who gets Harry Styles to speak to her and hand her his towel. I can truly say that that’s one of my most recent treasured memories with her. I’ll never forget the look on her face, how happy she was, and how happy I am that she’s my little sister. (By Amelia, aged 16)
Me And My Sister by Flora Lironi MacIntyre aged 10
Hello my name is Flora Lironi MacIntyre. I am 10 years old and I have two big sisters, one big brother and a twin brother. I am the youngest girl out of my whole family. I am going to tell you about my big sister Matilda who is 12 years old and will be 13 in January.
My earliest memory of Matilda is she would always pick me up around the tummy and then drop me on the floor. I would always get a really sore bottom, then she would laugh right in my face. I saw in a photo that Matilda didn’t really like me or Sonny when we were first born. In the photo Matilda was glaring at us. I think it was because she didn’t understand who we were and was kind of scared. She would also bite me and slam her head on the wooden floor, but thankfully I don’t remember that.
I enjoyed going to school with Matilda, but sometimes she was a bit embarrassing on front of my friends, like the time when she sat on my head and wouldn’t get off, or when she ran around the playground chasing me and trying to kiss me.
On my first day of school I was a bit nervous, but it was ok because Matilda was always looking out for me, like when she showed me where to put my schoolbag and coat. I liked being in the same class as Matilda so that I wasn’t all alone. When I was in P1 she helped me with my spelling for news and she always told me how much she loves me. Sometimes the teachers asked me what Matilda was saying when they didn’t understand her, which made me feel glad I could help because I am with her more and I understand what she is saying.
I was very, very, very sad when Matilda left to go to Sanderson High because I have never been in school without her. She leaves in the taxi every day at 8:00am and her best friend Jenna goes in the taxi with her. They have lots of fun together and are very similar. Sandford Primary has fifty pupils and Sanderson High has a hundred pupils so sometimes I worry if she gets lost, but I know she’ll probably not. The reason I am sad about Matilda leaving school is because she would always make me feel a lot better when I was sad and she was very fun to play with at play time.
Last month I taught Matilda how to ride a bike she is now very good at riding a bike and I am very proud. I used to need to hold her all the way round the field which was very hard. I really enjoy doing this with her. I am glad that I taught Matilda how to ride a bike especially as my parents have been very busy recently .
I really like going to gymnastics with Matilda as I can see her improve in things. Though sometimes she embarrasses me, like when she wears shorts which she pulls up way too high.
The best things about having Matilda as my big sister are – she is always willing to play, wrestle, play in the snow, sing, dance and loves playing pranks. She also talks for me when we’re out because I am quite shy. Some things that aren’t that good about having Matilda as a big sister – one time she broke in to my friend Talia’s house and went upstairs whilst she and her dad were playing on their x box and trashed Talia’s room. She also broke the lock on our bathroom door which was very annoying. When Matilda was in primary school she would always wander around my desk and put her face right next to mine whilst I was trying to concentrate.
One last thing about my big sister Matilda, I love her very very much, she is always happy to sing and dance in front of anyone and great at making new friends wherever she goes, and she also has Down’s syndrome. I’m so glad she’s my big sister.
Matilda’s reply –
by Matilda Lironi MacIntyre aged 12
My name is Matilda Elizabeth Lironi MacIntyre. Sometimes Flora is a bit annoying when she puts the blame on me, like saying I went to Talia’s house. It was by mistake, I didn’t mean it, it was an accident.
I will describe Flora’s ways – she is cute, she’s funny, I’m proud of her in the acro team. My favourite memory is, it was my 6th birthday and Flora was wearing a yellow dress and she looked adorable, like a princess. I love being a big sister because she can borrow my clothes and I play with her nice long hair and I play with her toys. One other thing I love is I love to dance with her and play hairdressers. Sometimes I look after her and I love her so much, but sometimes we fall out and one time we argued and Flora sometimes messes my room and makes it like a pig sty! But she is a really nice person and I like her personality.
Chapter 1, Part I