From childhood I wanted a sister and as much as I begged my parents, it never happened. They never told me if I had anything to do with their decision, but I prefer to think not. My second choice was a real, live monkey - I didn’t get that either, even though they could be special ordered through the Sears & Roebuck catalogue. That’s true; I am not lying. Page 305 - I had it memorized.
Being denied a sister and a monkey, I set out to find a replacement for one or the other. Fortunately, the sister won out.
My dad’s sister and my mother were best friends and, naturally, my aunt’s daughter became my best friend and the closest thing I had to a sister. We did a lots of things together, even dressed alike. My aunt would buy enough material for dresses for my cousin and I and my mother, an excellent seamstress, would make the dresses - one for my cousin-sister and one for myself. There we were - dressed alike and proud of it. When people asked if we were twins, it was “Yes, ma’am, we sure are!” Of course, everyone in our little village knew better but played along with us.
As we grew older, our lives took different paths and I moved away. But, when I was back in town, Watch out! We picked up on our conversations like we had never been separated. I cried when her baby died and then her parents and her brother. She shared my grief when I lost my parents and brother.
It wasn’t all crying, though. There were lots of fun times too. The ones I best remember are those that happened when we were children, especially the times when our grandmother babysat with us. Grandma had “fainting spells,” which usually happened when someone crossed her and it seemed like the more we acted up, the more spells she had. We could be chasing each other through the house, having a grand old time and then, plop! There she went, but a little sweet talk and promises to be better usually brought her around.
Grandma carried a little bottle filled with some dark, magical elixir called “nerve medicine.” Heaven forbid, if it should ever be misplaced. Well, misplaced it was one night when my cousin, Grandma and I were making fudge. Imagine our chagrin when several drops of that potent mixture somehow found its way into our candy. We were one group of happy campers, let me tell you. I’ve always wondered if Grandma had any part in the misplacement of that nerve medicine.
After many years of being a widow, Grandma decided to court with the boyfriend she had rejected before she married our grandfather. She was in her 70s at the time and, in our eyes, way over the hill - so far over that if she looked backward, she couldn’t even see that hill. Boyfriend would arrive, dressed smartly in a white shirt buttoned to his chin, pants with creases sharp enough to cut through butter and shoes so shiny you could count your freckles in them. Grandma was dressed finely too, but she always was a sharp dresser, usually with a lace handkerchief tucked in the sleeve of her dress. There they sat, side by side on the sofa, exhanging chit chat, smiling and being sweet to each other until it was time to have coffee and dessert (Thank the Lord, it never included any candy we had made!). How do I know all this? We were peeping in the window, of course. Grandma looked after us so we looked after her.
This was supposed to be about sisters and I got off track, but you get the picture. My cousin and I remain very close and never run out of things to talk about. I don’t hold it against her that she is older than I and she doesn’t hold it against me that I’m smarter than she. We get along just fine.
Published 16 December 2008, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind by Brenda Joyce Jerome.