Reading Arthur’s post about his sister’s memory reminds me yet again of an incontrovertible fact: in the main, the sibling is the longest relationship one will have. Longer than parent/child or spouses. Probably longer than most friendships.
Here’s a picture of the Green children of 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, which my sister Marcia came across and sent to me in the last month. I recall that it was taken when I was 10, Leslie was 9 and Marcia was 5. But some notation on the back of the picture suggests that it was shot earlier. Frankly, I can’t believe that Marcia could have been 3 when this photo was taken. This was considered the “good” picture, compared the “ugly glasses” photo taken three (or five) years later.
I was talking to Marcia a month or two ago about a trip Lydia and I will be taking to visit her, our mother and Marcia’s daughter Alexandria in North Carolina. As I’ve noted, Lydia is afraid of dogs. In this conversation, my sister notes that they had to put their dog down. Now, previously, I might have offered some sentiment of condolence. But I was so focused on how this would affect my daughter, I felt – this is not admirable, but it is true – a sense of “Well, THAT issue is resolved.”
Of course, Marcia calls me on this, but she used this ancient example to make the point. She recalls that when I was about 12, each of us got a kitten. Mine was Tiger, Leslie had Taffy and Marcia had Tony. Somehow, Tiger got out and was run over by a car and killed. I was devastated and even more so because my sisters had taken some glee in this; children can be so cruel.
So in 2009, Marcia says, “Don’t you remember how badly you felt when you lost a pet?” and she’s correct, of course, but pulling out that 40+-year old example is something a sibling is most likely to have brought up.
I find it interesting that each of us has only one child.
Indeed, because she was the youngest, Marcia tends to remember almost everything. She can start a sentence, “Do remember when…”; many’s the time Leslie and I will say no, but the essence of the story and the details are so vivid that we accede to her recollection.
The sisters used to drive each other crazy, with me as the involuntary referee, but they’ve become closer over dealing with my mom. Whatever that childhood noise once was, we have more important things to do.
Marcia is the best at sending presents and cards for all occasions, something I’m lousy at and Leslie’s not much better. That is her arm holding a dress that she ultimately sent to Lydia for her last birthday, which Lydia likes to wear. (Cell phone picture taken by Alexandria.) She’s the one who sent the anniversary card to Carol and me.
When she lived in Binghamton, little sister’s name was pronounced MAR-sha, but since she moved south, it’s become mar-SEE-ah. Anyway, today’s Marcia’s birthday. Happy birthday, baby sister. Have I sent her a card yet? Er, it’ll be in the mail. Soon. I swear.