Every year on November 24th, I think about one little girl: Jean Lee Benning. Today is her birthday, and I remember it because it's very close to mine, a fact that felt like a special bond when we were classmates and playmates.
There weren't a lot of kids in our neighborhood, but Jean Lee (I always called her by both names) lived close enough that we were allowed to walk between her house and mine. She was one of my first friends from school.
Jean Lee had brown hair that she wore in long, neat braids. She played the violin. It was because of her that I begged my mother to let me take violin lessons, too. (Mother, who was correct in her assessment that I'd soon lose interest in it, said no.)
I couldn't begin to tell you what we played when we played together. I mostly remember us walking from one house to the other together, and I remember that inside her house was the narrowest, steepest staircase I'd ever seen, so steep that climbing the stairs was a little bit scary.
We were little when we played together, first or second grade, probably, and then her family moved away. I've often wondered what happened to her, and I wonder if she has any idea that once a year for sixty years, someone has thought of her and wished her happiness.
Maybe someday, if she idly Googles her own name (we all do that, don't we?), she'll come across this post, and it'll make her smile.