Marcia is in North Carolina

first song, third side of the white album

Front to back: Marcia, Leslie, Roger

There’s something fundamental that changes in the family dynamic when the parents have both died. So even though I’m in upstate New York, Leslie is in California, and Marcia is in North Carolina, we have managed to keep in touch over the past 11 years, possibly better than before the parents passed.

Leslie, I have seen her a few times, mostly because she’s traveled to upstate New York, for her high school reunion, for one. Then I went to San Diego when she had her bicycle accident in 2018.

Marcia, I haven’t seen her since my mother died in February 2011. Well, that is not ENTIRELY true. I have seen her on ZOOM probably 100 times since the pandemic began. Indeed, as I’m sure I mentioned before, she was really trying to get our sister and me to hold a regular meeting on Skype. But I found the platform wonky and unreliable and non-instinctive when we tried it seven or eight years ago.

I’m not sure that Zoom is more instinctive, but I’ve used it SO often that I’ve become mildly competent with its use. Zoom is more reliable now than Skype was then, which, of course, is not a fair comparison.

Still, I haven’t gone south, and she currently cannot travel much at all. So one of these days, I’ll have to sojourn down there. If I travel alone, that would probably mean the train, because I so loathe flying. To be clear, I’m not AFRAID of flying. I just hate the feeling of being in an airborne bus. The last time I went to Charlotte, it was by train.

Since my wife is retiring, maybe we could drive down, assuming we can find a suitable cat sitter for our flaky felines

Natal day

Oh, yeah, I should mention that today is Marcia’s birthday. She’s HOW old? Well, she’s younger than I, younger than Leslie. I’m trying, but failing, not to refer to her as my baby sister. She hasn’t been a baby in.. a while.

It’s weird not seeing people that you’ve known for years that you haven’t interacted with in person. One gets a little of that at high school reunions. Heck, COVID restrictions had that effect to some degree.

It’s different, though, with a sibling. They are, statistically speaking, the people one is likely to know for the longest continual amount of time. So sometime before her NEXT birthday, I’ll have to see Marcia face to face again.

Sister Marcia, the convener

old movies

Marcia.covid shotMy sister Marcia was asking that the family, i.e., my sister Leslie, she, and I – meet online on a regular basis for years. And years.

She wanted to use Skype or some such. As I vaguely recall, I found that platform unnecessarily wonky, and so… I didn’t say No, and I actually downloaded the software. MAYBE we used it once or twice, but I didn’t like it.

But as the saying goes, it takes a pandemic. The three of us have met almost every week for a year on ZOOM. Occasionally, we’ll get guest participants such as my wife or Marcia’s daughter. We pretty much fill two 40-minute slots. (Longer than that and I develop brain fog.)

Currently, she’s working on pricing a headstone for our maternal grandmother Gertrude (Yates) Williams, who died in 1982, and her sister Adenia Yates, who passed in 1966. Why my parents never took care of this is one of those unsolved mysteries.

One of these days, maybe in the summer, we’ll spend some time working on genealogy. Ancestry.com has provided us with approximately one jillion hints of possible connections. Anyone who’s ever spent any appreciable time finding their roots knows that it is a rabbit hole that would have Alice wondering.

Cinema

I may have seen more recent movies. But she has viewed FAR more movies from the last century, especially the 1930s through the 1960s, almost all of them released before she was born. I keep threatening to veg out on TCM or some other channel, but I haven’t done so yet.

So she knows who Barbara Stanwick is. I mean, I do too, but only because she was on the TV series The Big Valley (1965-1969), while she’ll know the performer from classics such as Double Indemnity (1944), but also from the more obscure fare.

For the most part, she knows her performers from the Studio Age of cinema. Of course, she has a pretty uncanny ability to recall things from our childhood, events I’ve long forgotten.

Happy birthday, baby sister.

Niece Alexandria is having a birthday

the middle Green cousin

Alexandria

My second niece is having a birthday today. Alexandria is the daughter of my sister Marcia.

I remember quite well the first time I met her. She was about six months old and we were at a wedding reception for a cousin of ours. (We managed to miss the wedding – long story…) Anyway, I got to hold her and she began crying. Marcia insists that it was because her shoes were too tight. I chose to believe that narrative.

One time when she was five or six, I had purchased this reversible outfit at an Albany event and then brought it down to Charlotte. It was a hit with her and her mother, and she got two or three seasons out of it. All right! I lucked out.

One of my favorite times with her was when she came up to Albany. Downtown, there was a series of temporary statutes. I know I took a ton of pictures with her interacting with these faux people. They are in this house, somewhere.

She was extremely helpful to Marcia in caring for my mother, particularly in mom’s difficult later years.

Employment

Alexandria had been working in a fast-food chain for a number of years, working her way up to a manager. So she has some great interpersonal and organizational skills. The thing is, middle managers in many jobs get the short end of the stick. Salaried employees get called on to show up when someone else fails to show up.

She has a new job this fall in distribution, and she seems to like it so far. It’s certainly far less stressful than her previous gig, as far as I can tell.

Of the three Green cousins, Alexandria is the middle one. She’s younger than Rebecca by about the same number of years as she’s older than my daughter. I’ve seen what a great older cousin RJ is to Alex, and Alex is to LPG. Alex would work on my daughter’s hair and patiently play dress up for hours.

Happy natal day, niece Alexandria. I love you.

Health report: blood pressure

Emergency surgery for the baby sister

blood pressure

One of the things my cardiologist – I have a cardiologist?! – wanted me to do is to track my blood pressure. I’m not sure why. My BP has usually been pretty consistent over the years.

Still, all month, I’ve been religiously waiting for 8:20 a.m. I don’t eat beforehand. After opening the device and attaching this tool to my left wrist, I sit on the sofa with my left arm elevated by the davenport’s arm.

The idea is that I sit quietly for five minutes before pushing the button to start the reading. Why do 300 seconds of doing nothing seem so long? I hear the second hand of the analog clock in the kitchen ticking.

What have I learned? Other than the tracking of this information has become an obsession? Not a whole lot.

According to the current standards, a systolic reading of less than 120 mm Hg, and a diastolic score of less than 80 mm Hg is considered normal. If it’s 120–139 systolic/80–89 diastolic, it’s considered At Risk (prehypertension), and higher than that is considered High Blood Pressure (hypertension).

When I gave blood regularly – 176 times, thank you very much – my BP was never over 130/80, and usually far less. Only on two occasions has it ever been over 140 systolic. One was for my physical in anticipation of my hernia operation in 2015 when it was 163. The other time was when the cardio surgeon started talking to me about having a procedure in August 2020, and it was about 155 the first time, 142 the second.

The numbers bounced around this month, but it hasn’t been over 120 systolic since the 17th. It’s never exceeded 76 diastolic. But I’ll keep doing it for the foreseeable future.

The baby sister

My sister Marcia called me Friday night at ten minutes before ten. This is NOT my best hour, as I was heading for bed. I hear on my answering machine, “Er. Call [my daughter], maybe in the morning. I’m having surgery.” Wha?

I rushed over to the phone. Marcia had been having digestive problems all week and ended up in the emergency room at about 6 p.m. By 9 p.m., the doctors determined she needed surgery. THAT night. Without getting too specific, her digestive tract was out of alignment, probably due to surgery from 30 years earlier. Think of a garden hose that gets twisted and needed to be unkinked.

I called her daughter Saturday. My sisters, and their daughters(!) and we had our Zoom chat on Sunday. we’re hoping she’ll get out of the hospital later in the week.

Marcia, the youngest, maybe the bravest

no nonsense

Roger Leslie Marcia.5 GainesThere was a point when this became my favorite picture of my “baby sister” Marcia. She’s the one in the foreground, in front of my sister Leslie and me, in our driveway at 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton back in the mid-1960s.

My appreciation for the photo certainly developed after March 12, 1995. That was the day of my parents’ 45th anniversary. There was a family blowup. I remember the details amazingly well.

The part relevant to this piece involved a discussion the three of us had in the parking lot of a Montgomery Wards. Leslie and I were telling Marcia how awesome she was.

Specifically, our maternal grandmother, Gert Williams, would fill our heads with stories of boogeymen and other creatures designed to quiet and tame us. Roger bought into it. So did Leslie. Marcia never bought into grandma Williams’ nonsense.

She would also stand up to our father in a manner Leslie and I would never have DARED to have done. One of us said back in ’95, “we thought he was going to KILL you!” I think we were speaking figuratively.

So I suspect that the photo bugged me a bit when I was a kid as lacking order and symmetry. Now I appreciate it as an act of individualism.

Home

As the youngest, Marcia was the only one of us to permanently move to Charlotte, NC in 1974 with our parents, though both Leslie and I stayed there for brief periods. Ultimately, That has meant that she is the one who is the keeper of the family photos. I own virtually no photos from my childhood, save for a few duplicates I’ve managed to find on visits to North Carolina.

The photo here I found on her Facebook page, which is a treasure trove. Some of my cousins who are working on genealogy totally agree. Unfortunately, my grandmother never bothered to label the older ones.

I should continue to note that Marcia I the person most likely to send a card, not just birthdays and anniversaries, but for Easter and Thanksgiving. I didn’t send her a birthday card this year, or probably last year; this post will have to do.

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