A Sassy, Foul-Mouthed Brunette: The Girl That Slayed The Giant


andrea(If you’re new to the blog, I suggest you first read How 5 Little Girls Briefly Slayed the Giant.)

Andrea. I think about her often. I hope she’s happy; she deserves it more than any person I have known.

Andrea lived at the New England Home for Little Wanderers. Aunt Maryanne (one of the 13 permanent residents of Sheridan Street) worked there, cleaning up after the residents and staff. I always assumed it was an orphanage but all of the Little Wanderer residents went home on the weekends.

All except Andrea.

Andrea was a ward of the state. She had been in and out of foster care and, finally, had been permanently removed from her parent’s care after their umpteenth time of causing her actual, physical harm. I think the last straw was when her mother tried to drown her in the bathtub. Apparently beating and burning a child with cigarettes are not sufficiently cruel enough acts to warrant being removed from parental care.

Andrea, having no where to go on weekends bounced between the professional staff until she found a home on Sheridan Street. She spent every weekend and holiday with us, a fragile patch in our quilt of crazy. When she was introduced into our lives she was broken, in body and spirit. She was practically feral. She didn’t know how to use utensils, or clean herself, or anything really.

She was 6 years old, looked 10, and swore like a sailor.

It seemed to take no time for her to acclimate to the rhythm of life on Sheridan Street. She was wanted and she was loved and after a time she seemed to realize that and she relaxed. A little. With Andrea you had one simple thing to remember or you would set off a firestorm of cussing that would curl your ears.

Never, ever, try to take her food. Ever. Seriously. NEV-ER. Especially if that food was pizza.

Andrea loved Maryanne (her primary caretaker at home), Aunt Barbara (my mom), all the various kids and guests. But her special, all consuming love was reserved for one person: Uncle Jimmy. Or Papa Smurf as she would call him, laughingly. A completely appropriate nickname coined for him by Deb’s friend Robin, for at that time in his life, he looked, well, like Papa Smurf.

Dad treated everyone equal. Prince or pauper, you were good people until your actions proved otherwise. He treated Andrea like all the other kids, to him she was a kid no matter what lie in her past, and he treated her like he treated the rest — and tough luck if she didn’t like it. When she didn’t, she let him know in the most vocal, invective-filled way imaginable.

An Andrea rant was a thing of stunning simplicity. It consisted mainly of saying “fuck you” as loudly and creatively as possible. For example: fuck you, Uncle Jimmy, fuck, fuck, fuck, you. Uncle Jimmy. You fuck, fuck, fuck you. From a six year old. They’re legendary in our family and all it takes is one FU Uncle Jimmy to make all the sisters dissolve into laughter.

She would stand there red and angry; immovable; sputtering and growling (really, she would growl, grrr; low in her throat). There she was, not crying, chin up, shaking with rage, staring the giant in the face and telling him to go fuck himself. And Uncle Jimmy, the original red-faced sputterer, what did he do? Well, he looked right at her and laughed. A deep, rumbling, silent laugh that would have his whole body shaking. And that, THAT, would infuriate her and spur her to ever greater heights of fuck youing.

I was 17 when Andrea left us. She was adopted by a family that had experience dealing with children like her. Experience, the state decided, our crazy home did not possess. The family that taught her about love and family and fun and Christmas. Yeah Us. We weren’t a suitable family for Andrea. Us, the ones who taught her to share, and be social, and laugh, and be patient. Why? We didn’t meet state guidelines. We were also told that for her transition to be successful all ties would have to be cut; we never saw her again.

I remember the day she left. She was wearing Dad’s ridiculously large cowboy hat and carrying her favorite stuffed animal. I remember her waving from the car and the car pulling away.

In the action of her leaving, it was in that moment, that I thought Dad had finally met his match. A sassy, foul-mouthed brunette with an appetite for pizza and Papa Smurf. The battered and broken little girl who looked him in his eye and gave him hell, Her. She left him standing in his front yard, smaller than I had ever seen him.

Trying hard to hide his tears.

9 thoughts on “A Sassy, Foul-Mouthed Brunette: The Girl That Slayed The Giant

  1. OMG i often wondered about her where she went how she's doing so sad I remember her well I hope she is in a loving home surrounded with all the joys she deserves. Damn it Barbara! as i sit at work with mascara running down my cheeks 😦

  2. OMG I love her! She and Erin would sit on the steps every Friday afternoon waiting for me to come home from work. I worked, at the time, at Brigham's in the Dedham Mall….they had a bakery I was in charge of…and every Friday I would bring home chocolate chip cookies, a bag for everyone and a bag for Andrea…the first time she sat there and ate every single cookie…i swear in under 5 minutes….the only time I ever saw her share any food was a chocolate chip cookie…and she gave it to….Uncle Jimmy!
    He missed her so very much. I think she reminded him of himself. He and I talked about her. She reminded him of something deep in himself that his Dad tried to take away…and like her he just could not. I am proud to say Andrea is an always will be a Mulveygirl!
    She took on the giant and made him realize he was just a man. A very blessed man!
    Who never wore a cowboy hat, again!

  3. Patty, don't make me cry again! I remember the cookies! Dad and I talked about her a lot. He would say, had things been different we could have kept her. I think not being able to “save” her really bothered him.

  4. Her live did turn out well. Aunt Maryann ran into her many, many years ago. She looked well with her family. The Home for Little Wanderers had a great staff, compassionate, considerate and most of all the kind of people who did not stop working or caring @5pm on Friday. The fact that Auntie worked there and was hands on in helping Andrea everyday was reinforced every weekend. Andrea had a system built to work for her. The family she went to be adopted too were of the same. Having had other special needs/circumstance children. I am pretty sure she lives in the North Shore near the water. If ever a child/person deserved a do-over in live it would have to be her. But what would the rest of us be doing today with out her having been in our lives. How much did we change her life? Plenty I am sure of it. But how much did she change our lives? For me it changed the moment I met her. To watch as that frail, wilting child grew stronger each week. Watching her eyes change from a cold angry glear to a warm and almost smiling twinkle. Seeing her inner child exposed week after week. Brings a bit of pride, what we all gave to her we were all in our own lives at that point Teenagers! As sisters we had always looked out for each other so it was easy for us to feel for her. We were the Mulvey girls and she did become one of us. For as sisters we always rallied around, stood at the strong. We defended the other, we knew how to build a net and she was embrassed in that net. I think of Andrea almost daily and belive she has a great life. My kife is greater for having known her (even for only 7 months). For me I did see dad change and bend to this young girls needs, we too have our stories and our moments. But mostly for me I am glad we had the chance to help a young girl who was in much need of love and understanding. Many years before Andrea came to us Nana shared with me some of her horror stories having been a ward of the state. Her stories make me cry, Andreas stories make me smile and cry.

  5. I honestly think “we” gave her what she needed…she was too close to us to bond with her new family if we had stayed in the pic…MaryAnn heard from her from time to time, or at least about her. I thought I heard she was doing well…Will have to ask MaryAnn! I remember her everytime I see a chocolate chip cookie!
    Dad always had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met…Walter Chin in my book comes in a close second, at least where my kids are concerned! He just never had the wallet to back up everything he wanted to do!
    I am not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
    You will have to start a blog about Dad, especially with Christmas…his FAVORITE holiday…just around the corner…
    After that blog you could probably take some time off, cuz the answers and comments will probably take us into the New Year!

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