Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From left to right
Sheila , June Glenda Angie
back row: Sherry and Larry (the only boy)


            Sisters can be wonderful to have. Mine taught me how to get along with all sorts of personalities and in all sorts of situations. In fact, I wonder how people without sisters ever manage to grow up without them. How did they ever learn what was cool and what wasn’t

            June, the oldest, was my protector. She kept my other sisters from bullying me. Later, I got to know her as a loving caring individual. She is always looking out for others.  The next oldest, Sherry taught me to be fun loving and enjoy life. I am the most serious of the five girls. As a child, I could never take a joke. Sherry, on the other hand, never lets anything bother her. She is the most relaxed person I know. If she is late, she cares, but she doesn’t beat her self up over it. When I started dating she would always tell me whoever I was dating was a creep. I should have listened to her.

            Then there’s my sister, Angela, who was the rebellious one. She never did what she was told; in fact, I think she did right the opposite. I don’t think she meant to be openly defiant, she was just easily swayed. As an adult, she worries about everyone and everything. If I don’t hug her when we see each other she thinks I’m mad at her. She’s the most sensitive and compassionate one.
            Glenda, the baby, is four years younger than I. She’s our little daredevil. She hasn’t changed much. Her husband is a shy thing. I pity him.

             Sharing and caring were not learned overnight. Standing up for one’s self was an act in survival. Through it all, we grew up okay, not rich by material things, but rich in memories, some good and some bad. It wasn’t until I got married that I realized some of the simplest survival tactics were unknown to my husband. He didn’t share a bed growing up, as the only boy; my husband never had to learn how to anchor his covers to keep from losing them in the middle of the night. I, on the other hand, shared a bed with my sister and learned this technique at a very early age. When you have to share your blanket with someone who twists and turns all night long, you learn a few things. For instance, the first thing you do when getting into bed is to wrap the blanket completely around you. This accomplishes two things. One, that if the other person rolls over, it will prevent the cover going with them. Two, if they pull hard enough, trying to steal your half (and yes we measured) then it would wake you up and you would have a regular tug of war.
            Those old iron beds we slept on got us in trouble almost every night. They had springs and a feather mattress. There was no such thing as box springs at least at our house. So when the tug of war commenced it created a terrible racket. It seemed as if every night my mother called out for us to be quiet, we couldn’t move without the beds squeaking. You’d think after all the commotion that I wouldn’t be such light a sleeper, but perhaps it’s the fear of waking up cold and coverless.
            Another thing I learned coming from a big family was how to keep peace at the dinner table. My mother could cut up a chicken in such a way as to feed all us hungry children. I don’t remember fighting over the chicken or exactly how it started, but every Sunday mom would fry chicken and we would all have our own “piece”. So it didn’t matter if you got to the table on time or not, your “piece” was safe. As we grew older, we got the better pieces. I started out with the chicken leg, because they were easier for small hands to maneuver and then graduated up to the best, the chicken breast, which mother split into 3 pieces. She would half the breast and cut out the wishbone, which was the best piece of all and reserved only for mother. Dad got stuck with the thighs and back. Mother would choose the two best behaved at the dinner table to make a wish on the wishbone. I even figured out which end to grab to be sure my wish came true.
            I also learned the art of compromising or maybe I should say how to be a good diplomat. I don’t quite remember the whole story, but it seems when my sister Sherry took home economics, she learned to assign seats at the dining table. So from then on we each had our own “assigned seats and Mom and dad sat at each end.
The worst part of the dinner was the cleaning up. I hated washing dishes and would do anything to get out of it. It was always someone else’s turn. It wasn’t too bad when you had someone to help. Sometimes we would sing Beatles songs at the top of our lungs or pop each other with the dishtowel. When our favorite show was on TV, we would high tail it to the kitchen and wash as many dishes as we could during the commercials. This could actually be fun at times.
            Speaking of television, we had another rule at our house. The first one to turn the television on got to watch what they wanted. So the early bird, especially on Saturday morning, got to watch the cartoon of their choice. That would not work today. Today the one with the remote is the one in control, which is usually my husband.
             I hate to admit that I haven’t always appreciated my sisters, as all four of them would tell you. It wasn’t until we were all grown up that I realized how fortunate I was to have four people in the world who know all my faults and love me anyway.