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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, January 28, 2011


My earliest memory of my baby sister is holding her in my lap when Mom brought her home from the hospital and hearing Mom say " Careful, don't drop her!" I can still see my little girl legs with my little girl shoes hanging down toward the floor and this round faced baby in my little girl arms and Mom's hands helping to hold her. I was just 3 and she seemed so small.

I remember being at Rockaway Beach, playing in the sand at the water's edge. She wearing my hand me down navy blue bathing suit with the yellow flower in the middle of the chest. I loved that suit. A big wave washed over her head and she started to cry. I leaned over to comfort her and Mom came rushing over and picked her up. She is afraid of water til this day.

Through the years she was this little blonde girl who looked up to me and had the upper bunk in our room. I can remember her crying when I said I was going to run away from home--for who knows what reason. Mom dressed us alike for many years and I have pictures of us in endless Easter outfits until I got into around 6th grade and was obviously much older.

Pictures of her in the fourth grade show the strain she felt when I moved on to another school on the other side of town and we didn't walk to and from school together.

One time in Carnegie Bay we were playing on the dock after Dad had gone out to fish on the St Lawrence and she pushed me in. I could not swim but managed to get hold of the underpinnings and started to call for help. She in the meantime walked back to our cabin and when Mom asked where I was she said " In the drink!" Mom rushed to the dock, where another lady, in her slip, had already rushed to my aid, hearing my calls. They yelled to Dad who heard them over the boat motor and he and the lady's husband returned. Dad was about to jump in wallet and all to rescue me, by now it being rather dark and him not able to see me holding on in the cold water. He got me around the waist and onto the dock. Mom took me back to the cabin and tossed me into the shower. Sis in the meantime was locked in our room afraid she was in for a spanking but I made Mom promise not to hit her and so I was able to get warm pj's and the evening ended fine. We both wrote endless essays,none of which survive unfortunately, about this incident. Everyone of them earned an A or A +. Wish I had them now to see our various versions of the event. LOL

It was also about this time that she inherited my prized Roy Rogers gray shirt with the burgundy cuffs and shoulders. Boy, was I mad when Mom gave her that but in fairness it was too small for me by then.

We used to use the bed sheets to create nun's habits and I taught school by writing in chalk ( that I must have gotten in school ) on the wall. We washed it off before Mom and Dad got home from work and put the sheets back on the bed but Mom always figured it out--we thought she was incredible and couldn't figure out how she knew.

When we moved upstate we went to the Catholic school --she in 7th grade , me a junior --but we were back in the same school again. We hung out at the beach in summer and walked the three miles to town and back. When I went off to college she finally told Mom she wasn't staying in that Catholic school anymore--it was horrible--nothing like the wonderful schools we attended in NYC--also Catholic but with CND's--much nicer than the St Joseph of Carondolet nuns in upstate. Mom let her change. We were each other's best friend always---even though we had others we really only needed each other.

Then we were reunited as roommates when I went to grad school and she to college in Albany. We were living together there when John F. Kennedy was killed. I also remember that was when the Beatles were the big rage. She was in her long nightgown one morning and started to dance to She Loves Me, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah and as she kicked out her leg she extended the bottom of her long nightgown to its fullest and both legs went out from under her and she landed flat on her back. We were both frozen in shock until we both dissolved into uncontrollable laughter, the tears running down our faces.

Eventually, I married and moved out of State. Yet, we continued to be close and seemed to always know when something --good or bad--happened to the other and many of our calls started with " I was just thinking about you!" She eloped,I divorced, she had a boy and divorced and moved back home. I stayed out of State she moved back to the Albany area. Her son came to my home every school vacation--I thought of him as my child, too. We visited often and eventually I remarried and had a daughter.

Now we are both retired, our children are grown, she is a widow but I am not. We've had our ups and downs and there have been times I wished I'd dropped her that day long ago. But through it all, we are still each other's best friends, sharing secrets we've shared with no one else and a history that is all our own. It is interesting to see our differences and hear our different takes on that history considering we grew up in the same house with the same parents. But we are more alike than different and now she is 65 and I'm still three years older--her big sister and she's my baby sister.

I'm still looking after her, Mom and Dad--I hear you.

Oh, yeah, Happy Birthday, kiddo-----I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!

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