Happy Birthday, Barry!

I can still hear Flo telling me the story. She LOVED this story… the story of Barry’s birth. Tonight, I can hear Flo whispering it in my ear. It goes something like this…

Flo loved to entertain. Her husband, Joe, loved Flo to entertain. She was good at it. Easy and perfect. Flo loved company and Friday night “fight” nights were pretty good times to feed all the guys who came to listen to the fights. On one such night in June, 62 years ago, Flo was entertaining, Joe was listening to the fights with his brothers-in-law and friends, and Barry had decided that it was a good time to make his appearance.

But Flo couldn’t just leave because she was in labor. She wouldn’t think of interrupting the fights. No way. She had things to do. She whipped up her specialties, she served drinks, she entertained… all the while feeling stronger and stronger contractions by the hour. As the eleventh hour began to approach, Flo called her sisters and her mother to let them know that the baby was going to come. That’s when things began to fall into place rather quickly. “Leave it to the women,” Flo would say while telling her story.

The hospital was about a 10 minute drive. And within minutes of arriving, Barry was born. Friday night, June 11. Barry was Flo and Joe’s second little boy. They would go on to have a 3rd little guy, Rick, a couple of years later.

But this is Barry’s story.

Flo told of holding her little boy, Barry, for the first time and how blessed she felt to have him. She and Joe had been married for 7 years before their older son, Stephen, arrived and she was sure that she would never be so blessed again. But here he was, another beautiful little boy. And I think that whatever Flo whispered to Barry on that Friday night in June must have stayed with him forever. Barry loved his Mom. And she loved him back. Barry made her laugh. Real laughter. Raucous, fabulous laughter. Right to the day she died.

I can’t help thinking of Flo tonight and the gift she gave to the world. Barry. Yes, he gave her a run for her money in junior high and high school… his mind and his creativity working overtime, every day, and his charming good looks wiggling him out of any trouble he managed to get into. I remember going to Barry’s 25th high school reunion and a woman whom I had never met coming up to me and saying, “So you’re Barry Couto’s wife. I wanted to meet the woman who would marry Barry Couto.”


I smiled. We talked. I told this stranger that I didn’t know Barry back then, but I told her of the man I knew. We ended up laughing and hugging and laughing some more. Later, when I told Flo of this little incident, I could see the brain fumes… like who would ever say anything about her Barry. That was the way it was.

I think of Flo tonight as I see her baking a special cake and having exactly the number of candles as Barry’s age. I see her putting together a special photo album or a collection of mementos from his childhood… or his children’s and grandchildren’s. I see her marvel at the man he became… a magnificent man and son and father and grandfather. A loyal friend and incredible entrepreneur. A man who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words NO or CAN’T. A man who fits 48 hours into every 24 and still has time left over for anyone, anytime, anywhere. A man with more love in his heart and joy in his soul than can be measured.

Yes, Flo knew the blessing of this little boy who entered their world 62 years ago. She knew.

I honor Flo and Joe tonight as I wish my husband Barry the most beautiful birthday ever, ever, ever. They gave Barry the song and he’s been singing it ever since. They gave Barry the dance and he’s dancing it ever since. I hear Flo whispering his birth story. I will always love this story…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY! I LOVE YOU! Your angels are celebrating with you, too! I can hear them…

Happy Birthday, Barry! was last modified: June 11th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (10)
  1. So beautiful, Mom! It’s true – Nana thought the sun rose and set around Dad. If anyone ever loved her family members, it was Nana. Dad continues that love for all of us, and we are so blessed!!

  2. This story and Jane’s comment brought tears to my eyes. You are such a beautiful and loving family. We are so lucky to be able to come here and have you share the stories with us. Thank you for that. Happy Birthday Barry! You are a very lucky and blessed man in so many ways.

  3. Sharon,
    A beautiful tribute and a beautiful love..thanks for letting us in on your family’s love and honor for ‘Flo’ and Barry. He must have been a piece of work as a child! But what a wonderful life you all have made together and a beautiful loving family to honor you both!

  4. Words can be so limiting but you have a way of bringing them to life. Thanks for putting a lump in my throat this morning. Love you.

  5. Oh my gosh, Sharon, I am bawling! What a beautiful, touching story. Happy birthday to Barry…I have no doubt Flo is whispering to him from Heaven today exactly what she whispered to him the day he was born!

  6. As the mom of a boy who just could not wait to arrive in this world, I think I may have some idea of how Barry gave Flo a run for her money! What a beautiful story, and what a blessing it is that you are able to share it with all of us. I’ve no doubt in my mind that Flo is looking down from Heaven, proud of her son and still feeling incredibly blessed to call him that.

  7. Well, I’ll take Flo’s word for it, but for the life of me I cannot imagine Barry as a hellion.

  8. Thanks Honey… your words humble me. As you know, I just know how blessed I am to have you and the family that we have to love and enjoy together.

    Regarding Flo, for those of you who don’t know, most of the time, I called my Mother affectionately by her first name and she loved that. I saved calling her Mom for special occasions. As Sharon stated, Flo spent a lot of time hiding the things that I’d get in trouble for at school and such from my Father. My Father worked two jobs and wasn’t home very much and I guess I took that opportunity to have a little too much fun. I’ll leave it at that. But in Flo’s mind regardless of what I did… it was never my fault. She was super super protective of me and by the time I was out of high school, I lived life on the straight and narrow. Thanks to Flo.
    Let’s face it, I wasn’t that bad. I never spend time behind bars (more than one night at a time, ha ha) But when friends would suggest doing sometime that I knew was absolutely wrong and that Flo would just be embarrassed by… I would not be on board. So again, Flo and I survived my Jr. High and High School years and as I entered my 20’s we just became best friends. We were there for each other for the next 40 years. She had my back and I had hers.
    So on this my 62nd birthday, almost two years after Flo passed away, I just want to say I miss you Mom and I know that you still have my back everyday. And I have yours. I love you Mom.

Happy Birthday, Barry! was last modified: June 11th, 2010 by Sharon Couto