I can only assume that Neil was speaking of my sister, Carolioness*, when he composed the lyrics above, because they describe her perfectly. My Carolioness is as sweet as they come, and good times are never better than when she's around.
As evidence, I provide the following:
That's right. Hanging out with Carolioness is like going to a water park and a bubble-blowing contest and a costume party and a day spa all at once. But besides being fun, Carolioness is one of those rare people with the personal initiative to make order out of chaos. Take our family gathering last Christmas. For several days family members had been commenting, "We need to draw names to decide who's giving to who next year." We'd probably still be talking about it if Carolioness hadn't put everyone's name in a hat to send around. Of course, she started off the gathering with a hat-full of slips with her own name on them--the little trickster! (Don't worry, she and her accomplice were soon exposed.) Later, when the real name drawing was finished, Carolioness pulled out her laptop and recorded everyone's assignments so we could call her ten months later to be reminded who we're giving to. (Speaking of which, um, Carolioness, who do I have again?) She's just like that. She gets stuff done. I wish I had her around as my personal motivator every day.
Carolioness is just about the hardest worker I've ever known. She studied diligently throughout college, even when there were lots of tempting opportunities to slack off. She got into the competitive elementary education program at BYU, and, upon graduation, she beat out hundreds of other applicants to land a job in a district overrun with prospective teachers. And she has been a star sixth grade teacher ever since. I see the time and thought and effort she puts into her work and it reaffirms my faith in the public school system. Like B, I wish I'd had a sixth grade teacher like Carolioness. I missed out, but I hope my kids end up with someone like her. And your kids too.
I'm so lucky to have lived with Carolioness both as a child and an adult. During my wandering years after college, we shared a series of little houses in Provo. Talk about an ideal roommate! She's tidy (except when it's time to be messy) and silly (except when it's time to be serious), AND she makes a mean blueberry delight. It doesn't really get any better than that.
And did I mention she's fun? Once, while living together, we attended a multi-ward talent show at UVSC. Most participants performed ballads and arias in hopes of scoring dates through sheer force of vibrato, but Carolioness took a much more delicate approach. She played "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree." On her nose whistle. Read that again if you have to: A. Nose. Whistle. If you haven't seen a nose whistle performance from Carolioness, you really need to go to Provo and ask for a demonstration. It's hilarious and inspiring all at once.
Of course, I knew Carolioness was special long before she took up nose whistling. Carolioness was my little buddy from her toddlerhood. She'd sleep in my bed and keep her feet warm in the crook of my knees. I'd tell her stories and make her silly promises. For example, I remember promising her that when she got bigger and it was time for her to go to the prom, I'd come home from wherever I was and help her get ready for that momentous occasion. I don't know why, at eight or nine, I thought Carolioness's senior prom would be so significant that I'd have to be there NO MATTER WHAT. But five year old Carolioness nodded her head solemnly as if we'd just performed a pinky-swear ceremony. I regret that I didn't keep that promise, what with her prom being during my finals week and all. There must have been other childhood promises that I kept, but of course I don't remember any of those. I just hope I didn't let her down too often.
Carolioness has certainly never let me down. She is unfailingly reliable, and through the years she's been a strength and support to me more times than I can count. That's probably why Malcom likes her so much. (More than he likes me, probably.) When we lived together, Malcom took every opportunity to curl up at Carolioness's feet, or on the bathmat while she showered--or, if he was really lucky--on her bed. She says he had a crush on her. I think he just knew she was the alpha dog in our pack. He'd do whatever she told him to do. When Malcom got mouthy, Carolioness would come down to my room and give him a talking to. She'd tell him to be quiet and listen to the Boss. Remarkably, he obeyed.
I guess she's just got a way with my creatures, because Sam can't get enough of her either. Two summers ago, when my postpartum depression was at its worst, Carolioness came to my rescue. She spent her spring break taking care of Sam while I dug myself out of an overwhelming pile of schoolwork. It was such a relief to have her with us, and Sam was in aunt heaven. He was about nine months old at the time, and just on the verge of walking. She'd make motorcycle noises while pushing his walker toy toward him, and then move back to the other side of the room. He'd laugh and laugh while pulling himself up on the walker and wheeling himself over to her, and then giggle with anticipation until Carolioness started up the motor again.
As ideal a little sister as Carolioness has been, she's an even better big sister. Since the applicable younger siblings are incommunicado, I'll take the liberty of speaking for them to brag about what a great "big sissy" (her term) Carolioness is. I've seen her mentor, chauffeur, feed, house, befriend, and support Daisy and Javich as they learned the ropes of adulthood. That's right. Adulthood. It's alarming to acknowledge that my youngest siblings are all grown up, but it always made me feel better about the situation to know that the three of them were in it together. And still, through all the miles, Carolioness is still looking out for Sister Daisy and Elder Javich.
Just in case I had further doubts about the little kids no longer being little, I had a jarring moment of disillusionment this summer when I was in Utah for Carolioness's wedding. Carolioness was putting Sam's seat in the back of her car. She put her knee in the car seat and pressed down while pulling the lapbelt tight. Then she wiggled the seat back and forth and tightened some more, just like all the experts at those car seat checkpoints say to do. I've secretly tightened or re-installed Sam's car seat so many times after someone else has put it in that it alarmed me to see it done so perfectly. And effortlessly. On the first attempt. "You're like a mommy," I said, the way we always did as teenagers whenever any of us did anything remotely domestic. ("You used on oven mitt! You're totally like a mommy!") And then I realized she is a mommy. And then I got a little choked up realizing what a lucky little boy Nagol* is to have a sweet Mommy Carolioness in his life.
It's still a little hard to believe that sweet Carolioness, whose prom I missed, is all grown up. I think fondly of those days of carefree cuddling and late night whispering. But I'm so glad I have grown-up Carolioness as my friend and sister. Because, as Neil says: "The future's not ours to see, but there's some things that always will be, like sayin' I love you."
Happy [belated] birthday Sweet Carolioness. I love you.
*Names have been changed.