I’ve just returned from spending a week with my eldest sister and her family in Peabody, Kansas. A hot, humid, Scrabble-game-losing week.* We knitted and shopped** and Linda cooked fabulous, rib-(and hip-, no doubt) sticking meals and we watched a couple of DVDs. Just the kind of low-key visit to satisfactorily wind up my low-key, high-enjoyment Summer of Not Moving, Finally.***
I took the dogs, of course, and my BIL and nephew had built fence panels so Ricky and Violet could have a secure area to play (a little — it was hot) and poop (a lot) in. Very generous of the men folk and much appreciated.
And now I must share my moment of my humiliation**** and Linda’s triumph. To fully appreciate this, you must know that Linda is a full 18 years older than I am (62 to my almost-44); she’s not only biologically old enough to be my mother but believably so — it was even less unusual for an 18 year old to become a mother in the early 1960s than it is now. First, though, I must share two other factors that I know led to my downfall, but while I can acknowledge them, they do nothing to lessen the pain: 1) I’ve stopped dyeing my hair, which is significantly gray (I’ve grayed younger than any other of my siblings*****) and 2) in the eyes of a 21 or 22 year-old, anyone much over 30 is simply ancient.
Linda and I went to a bead store in a nearby town to repair some of her jewelry and to make matching earrings (meaning that I repaired and made, and she was incredibly picky about the color and quality of every. single. freaking. bead. in. the. store). We were sitting at a work table and chatting with a young female employee; when Linda left to get some sodas, I mentioned to the young woman that I was visiting from Iowa and that Linda and I are sisters.
“How nice,” she said, with a big, welcoming Midwest smile, “which one of you is the older sister?”
*I won 1 game and lost 4 (or maybe 5; abject defeats blend together, I find). Linda used all seven letters on the first play of the game TWICE. That’s just not natural, I tell you.
**In a four-town radius. Approximately one funky little shop per little farm town.
*** Summer 2005, I moved from Ohio to Iowa. Summer 2006, I moved into my new home. This summer, I napped. A lot.
****The Scrabble loses aren’t humiliating; nothing that certain and habitual can retain the power to humiliate for 30+ years
*****doubtless because I’m the youngest and have had to endure their abuse my entire life******
****** Think abuse is too strong a word? When I was three or four and walked into the house from the yard, Linda would say to me, “Who are you, little girl? You don’t live here. Go on home,” while pushing me back out the door. I grew up to be me — an old boyfriend once commented that I had abandonment issues. Linda, of course, grew up to be an elementary school teacher.