By Jan Grossl
The other day, when I looked in the mirror, my sister looked back at me. This made me smile. And as I did, guess what. She smiled right back. No, I am not losing what little mind I possess. I know it was an illusion. But it brought to mind the many times in the past when I was mistaken for my sister. One time, I declared I was going to change my name to Helen.
However, the vision was where the similarity ended. I should say right up front that she was more intelligent, forgiving, thoughtful and patient than I am, but why in the world would I admit to such a thing? I’ll just say she was a really GOOD person and anyone who knew her would certainly agree.
She has been gone from us for almost two years now, yet at times, when the phone rings, my first thought is that it’s probably Helen with some bit of news. Be it good or bad, or something funny, she would call to tell me. If it was something funny, we’d giggle like school kids, sometimes when it was not quite appropriate to do so.
She was a few years older than me, and I guess you could say she was my mentor. As far as I was concerned, she knew everything. That, coupled with the fact that she was willing to play with “the little sister,” and pretty much do my bidding, made her almost perfect. Notice I say almost, for there were certain times when she paid me no mind. You see, Helen was quite social. She liked to be out and about. One of her favorite things to do was go spend the night with our three cousins or with her best friend up the road. I did not want to go with her. I was proverbially tied to Mama’s apron strings, but here’s where I get a large demerit. I did NOT want her to go either. Nevertheless, if the opportunity presented itself, this sister person just blew me off. Sailing off into the sunset, she would sing happily, “There’s no place like going away from home.” So you see, she really wasn’t perfect at all. By the way, in remembering this little story, I admitted to Mr. G that I guess I was pretty spoiled. You know what he said? “You still are.” Imagine this coming from the man to whom I’ve been married for a long, long, long time.
Getting back to Helen and me. One of our very favorite play times involved paper dolls - not the kind that came from the ten cent store, but the ones we cut from the Sears and Wards catalogs. Once, Helen cut out a pretty Mama and blessed her with nine children. Of course, in real life, someone with nine children would be busy with all manner of chores. Not with this Mama. She and her nine little ones dressed up and went to movies, concerts, parties and ate all the ice cream they wanted and didn’t gain a pound. I don’t remember her cutting out any Daddy, but I’d say one was lurking around. Me? I got so fascinated with the yarn Helen was spinning that I forgot all about my “cut outs” and sallied right over to listen to her next episode. Of course, it wasn’t long before I cut out a pretty Mama with nine little ones.
You know what they say about time. It flies. And what’s left in its wake are memories. They also say another truth. We can’t remember what happened yesterday, but we can remember what happened umpteen years ago. That’s O.K. It enables me to remember the wonderful childhood I had with my sister, my friend.