Sister Leslie as emcee/hostess


Rebecca Jade, Leslie Green - May 2018
Rebecca Jade, Leslie Green – May 2018

As noted, my sisters and I have been talking on ZOOM almost every week for… what, maybe a year? You would think we would run out of topics to talk about. You’d be wrong.

It’s an odd thing. We’re still hashing out the weird stuff about our parents. The fact that they died in 2000 (Dad) and 2011 (Mom) hasn’t buried the issues. If anything, their passing has given us permission to address the stuff we wouldn’t have dared discuss with them or even fully acknowledge the issues.

In some ways, the three of us had very different lanes growing up. Marcia, as the youngest, was the rebellious “don’t BS me” child who Leslie and I couldn’t imagine being. I was the bookish, somewhat insular one.

Leslie, by contrast, was the child most likely to try to please others. When visitors, friends of my parents, came over to see my parents, Marcia could bail as the youngest. I would come out of my room to say hello then go back to my books/baseball cards/music, which was more interesting to me than people who didn’t ostensibly come to see me anyway.

Leslie was wired differently. She would talk to my parents’ friends a lot more than I did. It seemed that she was like an emcee. This made adults like her more, which was not MY concern.

In some ways, it served her in good stead. She was a very personable performer. Her first job, while in high school, was to be a hostess at the Perkins Pancake House on Main Street, near Glenwood Avenue, in Binghamton. She worked in the hotel industry in a function, not unlike a concierge. And even her other jobs involve communicating well with others.


Three years ago, as I noted more than once, Leslie was in a bicycle accident and almost died. She’s a lot better, though not 100%. There are still some issues with her eyes, her mouth, and a few other aspects. But she’s mostly OK.

I noted that I had seen the movie Summer of Soul recently. It reminded me that three years ago, less than a month before the accident, she was singing duets on a cruise ship with Larry Graham, the bass player for Sly and the Family Stone. Now that’s the kind of situation that being a talented and personable type will gain you.

Happy birthday, Leslie.


Leslie Ellen, to distinguish her


My sister Leslie was born less than two years after I was. I have few specific recollections growing up, aside of being in class, in which she was not at least tangentially involved.

One of the truly odd things my parents did was to name my sister after my father. This was occasionally a pain for both of us. For me, since people knew there was someone named after Dad, they assumed it was me. I got cranky when some people, primarily men of our church, would refer to me as Little Les. Eventually, we needed something to distinguish between the two Leslies. Dad was generally Les anyway. My sister became Leslie Ellen.

I seem to recall introducing her to my classmates on the first day of school. Because I started school in February and she in September, we almost never had the same teachers in elementary school. She had one named Miss Coddington in the fifth grade. Miss Codfish, as some of the kids referred to her, really seemed to have it in for my sister. I don’t know if it was racially motivated or if the woman was just a bitter human being. Quite possibly, it was both.

She’s a saint

And while the name “Leslie Ellen” could be a bit weighty, it was convenient when she converted to Catholicism during Holy Week of 2018. While Leslie isn’t a saint name, Ellen/Helena is. Helena “was about sixty-four years of age when she received the light of the Gospel.”

Sadly, one of her oldest friends was quite bothered by Leslie’s conversation. Her reasoning, in the letter I read after Leslie’s bicycle accident, frankly baffled both of us. It was a general evangelical anti-Catholic screed that wasn’t tied to any position of the church, failings by priests, or the like.

Leslie is having another birthday, which is a good thing. After that 2018 bike wreck, every birthday is a bit of a miracle.

Health reports: how can we keep from singing?

I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three>, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library Tuesday at noon.

singingYou may recall that my sister Leslie had a serious bicycle accident back on June 4, 2018. She missed about six months of work recovering and has had a number of medical procedures.

On April 8, 2019, she had a couple more surgeries, around her eye socket and nose. They were done more or less simultaneously, in order to minimize the total time of recovery. She’s doing well.

Meanwhile, I’m recovering from whatever health thing that I had. You know you’re unwell when you have to stop and rest walking DOWN the stairs.

On Sunday past, I barely got out of bed, except to watch two recorded basketball games that had been on the day before. And I couldn’t view anything more than 30 minutes at a time. It was impossible to focus enough to read or write.

Even back at work this week, I felt… loopy. I was still taking meds all week, including one at night that contained codeine. And I couldn’t ride my bicycle for the same reason.

I’m glad my wife finally submitted the paperwork for the taxes to get done. Usually, that process starts in the third week in February, during the school break. But because of our extreme busyness, worse than usual, it didn’t begin until the last week in March.

It’s just as well. Last year we got back around $700 federal; this year we PAID about the same. I was happy that all those early filers girded me for what I thought was a likely outcome.

Even though I’ve not seen five minutes of Game of Thrones – it’s just not my thing – I find myself skimming all episodes, RANKED BY TOMATOMETER; I blame my pharmacist. There are even GoT Oreos.

And speaking of religious behaviors, it’s Holy Week on the Christian calendar. Monday: I get my annual physical. This is a fortuitous occurrence, as it will be the follow-up to the treatment for my illness. I think the yo-yo weather is wreaking havoc with my allergies as well.

Tuesday: My daughter’s heading to Montreal on a ONE-DAY trip, which means getting her to school by 5:30 a.m., and picking her up around 10:30 p.m.

Also, I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library.

Wednesday: Get my teeth cleaned.

Thursday: Sing.

Friday: Not sing, but attend service.

Easter Sunday: sing, a LOT, if I still have a voice left.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Gracious she, the middle child

The excitement of her trip east to see her classmates, based on social media, is very high.

On one of our irregular-but-always-lengthy telephone conversations, the middle child asked me advice about this guy. They’d been friends, but he had become what I can only describe as toxic. (Actually, there are other other terms I could use about him, but I’m trying to keep the content here clean.)

He was that way to some other people as well, as I understand it. I once told her that he was a tool, and that became my sobriquet for him, in lieu of actually saying his name. “What’s the Tool up to now?” I’d say.

And then, after he was finally out of her life, he suddenly dropped dead. She wanted to know if she should go to the funeral. My counsel was that she should do what she felt moved to do. I have to tell you, though, that I wouldn’t have gone.

Yet she did, and appeared gracious to their mutual acquaintances in doing so. Hmm, graciousness – what a concept. In many ways, I think she’s a better person than I am, more compassionate. She does tend to wear her heart on her sleeve, whereas my feelings tend to be more internalized.

I’m fairly sure that I haven’t seen either of my sisters in person since my mother’s funeral in February 2011. But I very likely will see Leslie this fall. She is going to her high school reunion. I was perfectly happy to have blown off MY reunion last year – I THINK there was one – but crashing hers has enough emotional distance to tolerate.

Even though I was Student Government president at BCHS, Leslie was the real star in high school, both through performing and by the strength of her personality; I say this with zero jealousy, then or now. And the excitement of her trip east to see her classmates, based on social media, is very high.

The photo is from a fashion show at the Fowler’s department store in downtown Binghamton, NY some, OK, many years ago, when there WAS a Fowler’s department store.

Happy birthday, middle child.

Sorry, Leslie

It’s sister Leslie’s birthday.

LeslieI have mentioned my particularly lousy March 2014 HERE and especially HERE. About St. Patrick’s Day, give or take 24 hours, sister Leslie called and asked how I was, and I told her.

Unfortunately, I was more than a tad short of patience. When she started giving me advice, which I found to be well-meaning but frankly unhelpful, I petitioned to get off the phone. When she insisted I stay on the phone… well, I don’t really remember much after that, because I had departed the conversation emotionally at that point.

What WAS evident, even in my stressful state, was that she was feeling hurt, when all she wanted to do was help. I feel bad about that. And we haven’t talked since then, although we’ve had brief Facebook encounters.

It is, however, her birthday, and I always try to call her on that day. So I need to practice that apology speech…

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