Sister Stuff

I had a bonding experience with one of my sisters yesterday.  She came over to use my computer.  She was preparing a work-related presentation, and she had to type several pages of handouts and notes and copy them for her audience.  Then she had to practice the presentation, and I was her first practice audience.  During her visit we managed to catch up on family news, share a meal, and enjoy some silliness. 


I’ve probably mentioned that only one of my sisters is close to my age-the youngest was born just 11 months after me.  My mom called us her “old age babies”, because there was a ten-year gap between her earlier four children and us afterthoughts.  The upshot of that is that the older girls frequently entertained us and taught us various skills.  I distinctly remember learning knitting, reading, and braiding from various sisters.  The sister who came yesterday had the best sense of humor of all the girls.  She knew how to tease and joke and make a situation lighter.  She still uses that in the care of my elderly parents, and I could see it in her presentation yesterday.  I’ll never forget how convincing she was in telling me and my baby sister about the origins of dandruff.  She had us convined that little dandruff men knocked on our scalps when we were sleeping and asked if they could live in our hair.  She had special bedtime skills that we younger ones benefitted from until she was out of high school.  When she put us to bed, she would smooth our sheets very carefully to get all the wrinkles out, then wave the top sheet over us gently so that it billowed out and fell gently onto our bodies, making a soft breeze.  To this day, if I’m having trouble sleeping, I will get out of bed and smooth all the wrinkles from my bottom sheet. 


My mother was adamant that the older sisters not be burdened by the birth of the “afterthought” babies, so she hired a German maid to do the housework so that she (my mom) could focus on caring for the two babies.  Daddy was stationed in Germany at the time, and it is the only time my mother had regular household help until they were quite advanced in years.  She was unusual in allowing the older ones in our large family to continue to have their childhood and their freedom from caring for the younger ones.  That left us all in the unique position of being able to be friends later in life with no resentment on the part of the elders.  Despite that, depending on the issue we’re discussing, we will either claim to be from a totally different gene pool (found in the commissary, as my mother used to tell us), or the “real” children of the parents, denying our relationship to the other group of sisters. 


There seemed to be a natural trail of tattling that ran through the family.  One of my memories from early childhood is of playing in the sandbox with my sister and our friend, Rudy.  Somehow that sandbox play among four- and five-year-olds turned into a session of playing “doctor”, and Rudy and I were caught with our pants down.  We were caught by the sister I’ve been discussing.  She was only about 15 at the time, and didn’t feel equipped to give us a properly stern admonition, so she told my mother.  That resulted in some painful punishment, and I stayed angry at that sister a long time.  I couldn’t stay angry at her into the summer, however, because she was the sister who would take us swimming. 


As often happens, we younger two idolized our older sisters and wanted to be a part of everything that they did.  My excitement about prom nights began with the oldest sisters.  We would watch them get dressed and have their hair done for the formal occasions, and then we little ones would ride in the car with our Mom to the prom site, and watch all the beautiful girls and their dates going into the event.  Of course, our sisters were always the prettiest.  I was tickled to see that my daughter, in her grade school days, had the same fascination with the neighborhood girls and their proms.  She would peep from behind the curtains to see the beaus in their tuxes approach the house, and the gorgeously-attired girls come out on their arms.  It continues.  When we moved to our current house, my daughter was starting 11th grade, so the little girls in our neighborhood came to hang out and see her in her prom dresses, and ooh’d and aah’d over her beauty.  Thank goodness some things seem to be a constant. 


Because my father was an officer in his Army career, my parents had many mandatory social occasions, and they thoroughly enjoyed them.  They also enjoyed being the host and hostess, so we saw them entertaining, too.  It was an event for us girls to watch Mama putting on her red nail polish, mascara and red rouge for a dress-up occasion.  She had beautiful clothes, usually custom made by a seamstress for her plus-size form, and after she sprayed Chanel No. 5 and slipped into her dress she was a sight to behold.  Usually Daddy was in dress blues for these fancier events, and they were a splendid-looking couple. 


Okay, I’ve been reminiscing up a storm.  You would think that I’d spent all day knitting and could afford to put down my sticks and while away the evening with family memories.  Nope.  I took my car for an oil change and then went on down the road for groceries today.  Haven’t touched a stick.  It’s time to get a little work done. 



3 Responses

  1. My sister is 10 years older than me. I loved helping her ready for her dates and relished the attention she lavished on me. I will never forget my mom’s red lipstick that was worn only for special occasions. I hadn’t thought of it in sometime. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.


  2. How nice of you to share your memories with us.

  3. Oh, I dont do wrinkled sheets either!

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