( http://hand-made-rescue.blogspot.com/2011/09/true-confessions-part-one-b-e.html contd.)
"There is a critical period during the first four or five years of a child’s life when he can be taughtproper attitudes. These early concepts become rather permanent." - Dobson
On BIRTH ORDER:
- Is only child for period of time; used to being center
- Believes must gain and hold superiority over other children.
- Being right, controlling often important.
- May respond to birth of second child by feeling unloved and neglected.
- Strives to keep or regain parents’ attention through conformity.
That, most basically through the history of my sister the first born, is in it's entirety, the history of me.
That she controlled me is putting it lightly, but through her need to
And soooo, as she used to say, this most recent Dec. 29th, on what would have been her sixty-fourth birthday, I called my surgeon and left a message in his office. A Thank You for the greatest gift. TIME. For it was also the sixteenth anniversary of my first surgery, in which my surgeon - along with an entire team of expertly skilled assistants - succeeded in allowing me to live a bit longer. It was also the anniversary of the last conversation I had with my sister seventeen years ago, before the cancer began to eat her brain cells preventing her from consciously taking part in current events.
It is with these thoughts in mind I return to the scene of the crimes, the last time my sister allowed our parents inside our own private world, that we never again shared with them. For good reason...
After returning from our, ahem, adventure through someone else's new home my sister and I were subjected to suspicious glances by our mother, as well as the joy of seeing our dad highly amused, knowing we had done something. He was quite content in remaining ignorant of exactly what we had done, never asking why my sister had marched through their front door with that familiar air of superiority she had perfected in childhood, nor why I slunk in with my hair standing on end, glancing furtively behind me while I tried to be nonchalant in turning on the scanner my mother had purchased when I began working for police departments. (Despite my mothers inherent intelligence, she never could quite grasp the fact I worked so many miles away the only thing she would hear would be skip during heavy sun spot activity, never my voice on her scanner.) Dad just walked around beaming at my sister and I, that twinkle in his eye never dimming one bit all afternoon.
"Where are you taking your sister for dinner?" Dad had asked. "Oh, I thought the Tavern." I replied. "Oh, that's good," my mother remarked knowing it was an unlikely place for my sister and I to get into any mischief in spite of our advancing years. The Laconia Tavern was, at that time, the most expensive and well heeled place to not only eat, but stay over night in the touristy little town. It was, if you will, the town's own Plaza Hotel. My sister had held her wedding reception there years before. Our mother had informed us earlier in the year rumors about town had been flying over the Tavern closing so I had thought - correctly - it would be a good time to go.
Much later, seated at our linen covered table for two, lead crystal water glasses sparkling in the diffuse light of the restaurant's candelabras, we were approached by our waiter. "Would you ladies care for anything to drink?"
"Scotch, straight up and keep them comin," was my sisters straight-away reply. While I was trying to find my voice in addition to failing attempts to pry my jaw off said linen tablecloth, for you see it had dropped that far, my sister never skipped a beat and quickly added, "And we will also have a glass of red house wine please." Off he went to fill the order, while I was barely managing to speak. "When did you start drinking that for cryin' out loud? And what makes you think red wine will go with my dinner?" "Oh, well, I found it numbs the throat sufficiently after a radiation treatment. It was Jim's idea, but simply brilliant. Really works. And silly, you never order fish in restaurants." Oh jeese, leave it to her to not only have a temporary cure for radiation burns in the esophagus, but know what wine to order for me.
Over Waldorf salads and pasta we discussed everything from her radiation treatments and her fear of the giant machine, to the brutal weather in Maine, the primary reason we saw little of each other during the winter. After she ordered dessert - cheesecake with raspberry sauce on the side please - she mentally turned back the clock. "I want to go roller skating now." I nearly choked on rainbow colored sherbet, which would have been a feat in itself. "What?" I coughed , as the sherbet continued sliding down the wrong pipe. I looked straight at her. Her eyes were glassy from the scotch - a lot of scotch though I had failed to keep track - and there it was. That, "I ORDER YOU TO..." look. I was five again and could not flat out refuse for fear of losing an ear. (I still have two.) Short of a fork to the eye necessitating my excusing myself to go to the hospital to have the fork removed, I could think of nothing better to do but stammer excuses, in the name of my own self-preservation.
"You know I can't roller-skate. Figure skating, that's all I do with skates..." Much to my chagrin I never learned how to remain upright on four little wheels, two of anything was my limit, right down to the wine, with the exception of one water ski. "No, we are going." was all she said and I knew that was her final declaration on the matter. It was that tone of voice she used, the one where she ordered me to fork over my allowance or suffer the consequences. I always forked over.
A little while later there we stood at the indoor rink renting roller skates. I bit my tongue when she ordered her size eleven and a halves. I'd been injured too many times as a child asking her if oars came with her canoe-shoes. I requested my eight and a halves and she began muttering how anyone so tall could end up with such little feet. Then she looked me straight in the eye and said, "You know, I had never thought of it before, but I've been reading a lot of National Geographic in doctors offices, and really, mother must have bound your feet in small shoes much like the Chinese bound the female babies feet to keep them small." "Um, yuh think your always rallying for new shoes every other month and me wearing the same ones until the soles wore out had anything to do with it?" "Lets go get a beer," was her reply. "Um, I don't think I heard you correctly."
But I had. "When did you start drinking beer?" "Oh honestly, you're beginning to sound like a broken record with this 'When did you start?' business. When Jim and I went to Germany for an original Oktoberfest. Would you like one?" "No."
"She'll have a dark draft please."
"I don't even like beer, and need I remind you I am the one driving home?" Then I stepped back for a moment. She was happy, a bit drunk, but happy. Her eyes were twinkling, she couldn't wait to get out on that hardwood floor and start speeding around the enormous rink, much like she sped all over creation in her Monte Carlo with the 351 Cleveland.
Normally she was only an inch shorter than me, but after eight weeks of radiation she appeared to be so much shorter and her normally heavyset, always upright frame appeared to be slouching a bit. "Why didn't you tell me you were starting the radiation so soon? I would have come up. I had no idea." She was having none of it and did not want to dwell on in it. "They said I would be sick, put on your skates." I gripped my beer stein. "Now." I eased my fingers from the mug handle ever so slightly. "Well, you go on ahead," as I watched the upper bodies of skaters whizzing past over the really sturdy retaining wall. She gave me the all to familiar surveying her prey glance and I quickly put on my skates, wondering if that anti-germ spray really works, and if not how many other feet had resided in these skates before me.
The next thing I knew I was gripping the retaining wall trying to inch my way to my sister, who was standing at the break in the wall preparing to enter the danger zone to razzle dazzle everyone on the rink with her smooth moves on four wheels. "Move a bit faster would you, the place will close before you get on the boards." Rats. She had figured out my plan. "I didn't get a chance to finish my beer." "We'll get more later." Yup she was on a roll, er, literally.
Off she sped onto the shiny, highly waxed wood surface. I gripped the wall and while attempting to put one foot down on the boards of death, a group of skaters came zipping by, one yelling at me, "Move the foot please." Oh, great. An entire rink of clones of my sister will be yelling at me in about four seconds. That was enough to get me out there. Sort of. As I was trying to keep the skates from rolling out from underneath me, using two entire arms to grip the mid-chest high retaining wall, my sister sped past. Thinning blond hair whipping behind her she yelled over the music, "Catch up, I'm a lap ahead already."
One must yell I realized. The seventies music was blaring over the loudspeakers. More than likely to drown out the screams of the four-wheel challenged such as myself. I tried to stand upright and survey the situation. The rink was enormous. The skaters were whipping around like it was the Indy 500 and real money was at stake. Just as I was about to execute an attempt to unglue my arms from the wall, I felt a distinct movement in the wall itself. While maintaining my grip I spotted a mass of human limbs against the wall. I saw a female face that appeared to be screaming but she sounded like John Denver whining about some rocky mountain high. I was thinking they best dig out the dirges if I ever get off this wall as I watched a group of speeders crash into the girl and her pals. The pile up was getting larger and it wasn't even a hockey game.
I waiting until the pile up was cleared, noticed my sister had slowed to a reasonable speed and taken the inside track for the whole disaster, and after those still somewhat mobile had assisted the injured off the rink, I pushed off.
I was rolling ever so slowly towards my sister when she abruptly turned, heading toward me. Crud, how does she do that? She seemed to be speeding up as she approached my shaky self. Next thing I knew she was grabbing my arm and dragging my now bent at the waist form around the rink. "Stand up straight grace," she said as my life flashed before my eyes. Halfway around the really large oval, the lights dimmed. I knew I must be dying. "Hold on, stop this madness, I'm having a stroke, I'm going blind. Everything is going dark." "Oh stop it, they dim the lights and turn on the glitter ball at ten o'clock." Wonderful.
The glitter ball flashed on, then proceeded to throw multicolored squares of light everywhere. I wasn't even finished with my first lap. The lights created a problem with my depth perception when combined with my fear of never making it off this wood alive. "Take me back, I need to go sit down." "Oh, well, alright, it's just half a lap more." "No, take me through the middle." "I can't. this is a different breed. Haven't you ever watched Roller Derby?"
Well that did it. Now on top of everything else I imagined my helpless self being bashed by every group of skaters approaching from behind. "Oh hey, what did I ever do to deserve this?" "You were born silly." "Um could you speak to mother and dad about that cause it's really not my fault..."
And then it happened. Out of nowhere a speeder, even by derby standards, came swooshing up behind me and too close. I know now he must have been aiming for me as no one in their right mind would bump into my sister. She was still a formidable figure despite her illness. Whap.
He brushed past my left side forcing my body upright to absorb the passing impact, my sister momentarily let go of my right arm in the confusion, and still doing about 20 mph, I headed straight into the boards at the near end of the oval, arms flailing.
It wasn't so much the impact that affected me. It was more the humiliation, although someone flew past saying, "Whoa, that one went down hard." Hey, yuh think? Up rolled my sister. "You OK?" "Great, fine. You take me out and get me drunk then bring me here." "You brought me, it was your treat." she said laughing. "Well get me off this rink before you call Dad to come and get us."
Four, maybe more, beers later while I was trying to recoup my dignity, we called our father. He snuck down with a friend older than he was to bring us home with the car. We stood outside in the gorgeous summer breeze, shoulders pressed against the other. It was the only way to remain upright.
Dad pulled up with his friend who crawled out of the car, planted his cane firmly on the cement and waited for dad to come around to the passenger side of the Buick. "I'm drivin' the Volvo," he said to Dad. "Well, I've never driven one, kinda like to see how the ride is." "Yah dragged me out at midnight to sneak your two," he glanced over, "drunk daughters home and you're gonna tell me I can't drive the Volvo?"
"What are they doing?" my sister asked. "Arguing over who is gonna drive my car home." "What will we tell mother?" "Nothing, she's never gonna know. Dad has it all worked out."
And he did. Our mother never found out we had gotten plastered. She did however, remark on the gigantic bruise on my thigh the next day...