Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Theme Week 13..Vignettes

All sisters have some sort of special relationship, good or bad. My sister and I are no different. The bad was mostly before I was 12 years old. That was before she moved out and got married. She was 7 years old when I was born. She was a princess, like many 7 year old, only children, and she didn’t like me much when I came kicking and screaming into her world. “Whaddya mean..be quiet the baby’s sleeping…this is my kingdom.” It must have been very hard to share what had been her glory for 7 years. Of course I only know this part because she told me, when we were both much older, and able to handle that truth. I do remember being a royal little pain in the ass who must have caused her no end of headaches when she was a teenager, with teenage friends, and teenage secrets. I remember sitting in the living room, under the piano (one of my favorite spots so the gypsy lady in the painting couldn’t see me) and tattling whenever Di and her boyfriend got too close on the couch, or turned out the lights to “watch tv.” More than once I heard, "Mama, can't you make her stop talking?"
As an adult with children and grandchildren, she probably wouldn’t condone corporal punishment now, but at that time it didn’t bother her much to whack me when she thought I needed it…which seemed often to me. I was sure she was just being mean when she made me spit out the gum (right in front of my friends) that I’d taken from her dresser. (That was o.k. My friends each shared a piece of their already been chewed gum with me) Or when she put the dishes back into the dish water saying they were still dirty, when in truth, they were probably still dirty.
On the flip side, I became her trained mascot who could jitterbug with the best of them…very handy to have a dance partner who was little enough to toss over your back or slide under your legs. It was cute to have a little sister dress up in a cheering uniform (pint sized) and go out on the basketball court. I was pretty useful as a go between with authority too. Lots of “go ask Mama if we can…” conversations. When she got a convertible,(57 Chevy Bel Aire...the only Chevy I ever loved)it was quite a thrill to be invited to go for a ride. When she got a diamond, she woke me up to show me first. By the time she was 19 and moving out, I figured she had grown up enough so we could finally be friends. It was many years later that it occurred to me that maybe I was the one who had grown up a little. It was very cool to go stay with her and her husband down near the coast. Later when I had a niece, then a nephew, it was my favorite place to go. My brother-in-law was the perfect big brother to me…wonderful to my sister, kind and caring with his small children, and just enough of a tease to always make me laugh. That all changed with a middle of the night phone call to tell us he had been killed in a car accident. As a typical 16 year old drama queen, I was pretty sure it was the end of my life too. I soon realized that my pain was trivial compared to my sister’s. She was now a 24 year old widow with two toddlers. Many years later, she summed it up when she told another young mother that when people tell you that time will heal the wound; you want to tell them to go to Hell, even knowing that they are right. We did all move on from that time.
When I got married, I moved in with Di and her children, while my husband was finishing basic training and tech school in the Army. At the end of the month, just before the allotment checks came, we’d clean out the pocketbooks for a supper out at The Chuck Wagon. We had a great laugh when Di introduced me to the waitress after I’d just ordered a beer, and the waitress asked which one of us was older. Filet mignon couldn’t taste any better now then those hamburgers did back then. We also had a great sense of teamwork. She worked and I babysat. On the weekends, we’d start cleaning at opposite ends of the trailer, and meet in the middle. During that winter, she began a new relationship, and when I moved out in June with a new baby, she remarried.
We’ve remained close, asking and giving advice freely over the years. Whenever there’s been a family crisis, we’ve talked to decide how and how much to tell Mom and Dad. That’s something that has continued with Dad now that Mom is gone. We’ve had a running joke about the Christmas newsletters from the absolutely bloomin’ perfect relatives with their exceptionally brilliant children. Even though we’re both busy with our families, work, and school, and don’t get together as often as we’d like, because of the distance, we’re still best friends. We may have gotten off to a rocky start, but I think we’ve worked it out pretty well.


Blogger johngoldfine said...

Listen, I don't want you to misunderstand: this is very very nice stuff; character study, vignette (we do these later), sketches. Really very slick the way you move us through time and changes in relationships by describing changing (then...now) type-details.

But it is not narrative, not a story. So, back to the drawing board, I'd say.

9:17 AM  
Blogger marciamellow said...

Thanks..I wondered about that too. I just wasn't quite ready to do the 2nd year at the hospital story. (It ended ok after the flat line, but it's still not easy to talk about.) Maybe I'll go back to Grampy Jeff and how he got his name. (it wasn't Jeff!)

9:52 AM  

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