May 19, 1957 was the day. Jeannie had no idea what lay ahead for her. She was to be the eldest of six children and the built-in babysitter for her younger siblings. She had the spotlight for only one year before the first of these siblings arrived... that first sibling was me. Jeannie and I shared a room until the day she graduated high school and left for Florida to attend university, leaving me (finally) with "my own room."
I won't pretend Jeannie and I saw eye to eye on things growing up. Quite the contrary. Jeannie was "the boss" and I was the kid who could not keep her mouth shut...simply HAD to correct the story... no matter whether it was my younger brother or my father telling the tale. Correcting my brother was, of course, expected, but correcting my mother, or speaking back to my father was not the wisest move on earth. I can attest to getting my fair share of "correcting" from him over the years. And as I continued in my outspoken ways, Jeannie wondered why I always had to buck so hard... why I didn't just shut up and avoid the punishment. So, in my view of the world in those days, Jeannie was the goody-two-shoes and I was, well, the one who got into trouble... not with the law or anything, just with my parents.
Our room was small compared to the standards of kids' rooms today, but it was better than sharing a room like my brothers did...they were four boys in a single room sporting two sets of bunk beds. Jeannie and I shared a double bed in our early years. Now that "sharing" was the source of many a battle, and I remember how WONDERFUL it was when we moved to England, and Jeannie and I swapped the double bed for bunk beds. I slept up on top and that was just fine with me! No more battles over the sharing of that double bed.
When I think back on those things that seemed such BIG deals when I was a youngster, I am truly amazed. How narrow was my view of the world back then.
After college, after we were both completely on our own, my sister and I actually became friends. There were no more battles over the bedroom, my side the pig-sty, her side the better-homes-and-garden-on-a -nickel-budget side. There were no more battles over purple walls and matching bedspreads. In fact, in our adulthood, we found more in common with each other than I could ever have imagined as a child.
Last week I was in Maryland taking required training for work. The second night there Jeannie called and we talked on the phone for nearly an hour. We don't do a lot of phone calling, neither of us being particularly crazy about that mode of communication. Still, since we only get together a couple of times a year, it really was nice talking with her. After we spoke, I thought about the conversation, a conversation in which she prefaced several of her sentences with, "I'm not trying to sound like your mother," LOL. I had to laugh. I am all grown up, in fact, well over the hill now, and my sister is worried about giving me advice, worried that I might think she is trying to be my mother!
Well, the truth is, all of those words, all of that advice, are just well intentioned concerns about what is happening in my life. I cannot find fault with someone who cares about me and is comfortable enough to talk about tough subjects with me. Does it mean I will always heed the advice offered? Ummmmm.... well, let's just say that I haven't lost my will and determination in my adulthood. I still have an idea of what I think is right and what is right for me, so, probably, I'll just be very thankful I have my sister, and that she is willing to tell me what she thinks. I like the honesty.
But that brings me to the point of my post tonight. Today Jeannie turned another year older and I didn't even get out to send her a card! Shame on me.... In the next few days, I will get the card in the mail to her and I imagine she will understand that I didn't forget her on her birthday...
OK Jeannie, HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Go ahead and get older... I'm right behind you!