I have many memories of my childhood, but some of the most poignant are regarding my sister, Susan. We’re eight years apart in age, (she’s older) but our actual birthday’s are only one week apart. Yesterday, she had a ‘milestone,’ birthday. Whoo hoo!
We may both be Leos on the astrological charts, but we couldn’t be more different. We don’t look alike, and we certainly don’t think alike, and our personalities are very dissimilar.
While I’ve always tried to be a people-pleaser, my sister is outspoken and, when I was younger, most of the time I thought of her as a rebel. As kids, those rebel inclinations would sometimes get her in trouble with our mother, who was the main disciplinarian in our household. But in my eyes, they made Sue seem daring and exciting. She did things I would never dream of doing – of course, I was younger and couldn’t even imagine some of her exploits. A quick example: Late at night, Sue used to sneak out her bedroom window to go outside and meet with…boys! I’m not sure how Mom learned about those late-night visits, but once she did, she put the kibosh on them.
It’s not surprising that my sister would be attracting members of the opposite sex. With her long naturally blonde hair, aquamarine eyes, and an easy laugh she was a beauty. I used to watch her getting ready for dates and wishing I were old enough to go on dates too.
And sometimes I did get to go on dates. I think our Mom thought if she sent me along on Sue’s dates, I was a quasi chaperone – even at age seven. Of course, back in those days, the movies didn’t have a rating system, and there were drive-ins where the price was set by the carload, so another person in the car didn’t cost the boy any extra money. What Mom didn’t know, was once we got to the drive-in, Sue and her date would put a blanket out on the ground in the parking space next to theirs and buy me candy so I’d lay on the blanket and watch the movie while they ‘watched’ it from the car. It’s a wonder I never got run over! But it was such a different time back then. Can you imagine telling a teenager today they had to take their little sister on their date with them? Ha!
Another thing about my sister was that she had the most beautiful clothes. In particular, I remember a blue lace semi-formal that made her look like a princess. I don’t remember where she wore it, but I do remember how pretty she looked. (I didn’t get to go on that date.) As I got older, sometimes I would get her hand-me-downs. When I was in junior high, Sue gave me a pair of pink Mary-Jane shoes that had thick stacked heels. I loved those shoes and had a dress that matched them perfectly. Unfortunately, as I continued to grow, I couldn’t fit into her size 5 shoes anymore.
Another vivid memory I have is playing hide and go seek with my friends. In the summer, all the kids would play in the street until it got dark. Well, on this summer evening, we were playing and I recognized a car coming down the street as belonging to a boyfriend my sister had just broken up with. To my shock, the boy drove his car right into the back of a car that was parked across the street! When the police came, (a HUGE deal on our street,) the boy said he was driving down our street trying to get a glimpse of my sister. He’d taken his eyes off the road and crashed. Ah, the price of young love.
But there have been times – although very few – where my sister and I were in sync, and totally agreed on something.
One of those times was when the decision was made that Mom’s Alzheimer’s disease had gotten to the point where it was no longer safe for Mom to live by herself. We made arrangements to move Mom to assisted living. We found a place that we both loved, but that still didn’t take away the guilt of moving Mom out of her home. What made it worse was that Mom refused to even discuss having other living arrangements. So, Sue and I formulated a plan where we’d take Mom to a movie and the rest of the family would move Mom’s belongings to her new assisted living facility while we were gone. Instead of taking Mom home, we’d be taking her to her new assisted living home.
On that day, both Sue and I were quite emotional, but couldn’t show it or Mom would wonder what was wrong. It’s one of the few times that Sue and I have been united in purpose and thought. We didn’t like the task at hand, but we knew it was necessary.
The movie we’d taken Mom to see was a highly acclaimed film, but I didn’t care for it. And to my surprise, as the three of us walked out to my car, Sue said, “I didn’t like that movie,“ and then stated her reasons for not liking it. And the reasons she didn’t like the movie were the very causes that the film was being celebrated. But in that particular case, it was as though she’d read my mind. She’d articulated my feelings about the movie perfectly.
Was it the emotion of the day that had us relating? Or…gasp…perhaps we’re more similar than we think.