Written for Seester (Jackie) in 1996

Jackie & Rosemary
Jackie & Rosemary

I’m not known around town for being shy. That’s my sister.

She is the quiet one, always calm and rational.

As children, she was the one held up for me to emulate, imitate, grow up to be like.
It didn’t work that way.

Growing up with her was difficult.

I recall her and girl cousins K&J always leaving me behind as they toured the
woods on great escapades.  Girl escapades.  Talking about girl things. That left me to play with younger brother Wojo and boy cousins T&T.

We had fun.

I learned to catch crawfish with bare fingers, cold from the fast running creek water. I climbed trees and swung from the great vines, grape vines, woven within them. In the winter we made forts of snow and dare deviled on sleds and toboggans on terrain I wouldn’t go near on runners today.

In the hot, sticky days of summer, we built forts of rocks and twigs. We caught frogs with skimming stones, patched up the wounds and put them back in the pond.

We did handstands and cannonballs into our pool, walked on our hands, holding our breath underwater as long as we could.

Always an adventure, always the tomboy, and always, from the corner of my eye, watching the petite and quiet one.

Resolving not to be like her; talking tough and skinning my knees, all the time, wanting to be like her.

She with gentle nature and beautiful green-blue eyes. My plain brown orbs adoring and hating her in a constant pendulum of emotions.

Teen-age came and always, still, she was the favored one, never questioning authority, always doing as told, following the rules.

Being Shy Isn’t in My Nature

I was like Pig Pen, leaving a trail of chaos and unrest in my wake wherever I traveled.

Reflecting, I am amazed that our parents didn’t send me to military school as an alternative to raising me. Perhaps it wasn’t an option for difficult, but not bad, girls coming of age in the 70’s.

There were years, in high school, when she and I did not speak. Sharing a room, the silence a burden like some cold tomb, we lived together, we didn’t know each other.

I, the wild one, left home first. The tension immediately eased. Gone four years, to prove myself–what?

More than her, or simply as worthy as?

I chose my path, or rather, the multitude of paths as they’ve turned out to be.

While she, following tradition, chose hers and married. I was shocked when she chose me to stand up for her, perhaps that was an opening key.

Over the next ten years, we found ourselves working on a long distance friendship, one composed of individuals so different that if not related, they would never be friends.

I’m Still Not Known for Being Shy

In the last six years … Since I moved here, near her, we have discovered many things about each other.

While I saw her as demure perfection and greatly loved by our parents for her subdued nature, she saw in me the outspoken rebel she wanted to be but was not able to.

We shake our heads with humor at what each of us remembers of our first eighteen years together.

We bring laughter to what, if dwelled on separately, would be painful to recall.

No, I’m not known around town for being shy, that’s Seester, my older sister–the one with the wonderful husband, daughter, son–that’s not me at all.

The one who says, “I’m not her,” when people say they saw her out dancing Friday night.

With our differences so apparent to us, it amazes us, our families too, when people continually confuse us. We’re always saying, “That’s the other one.”

But sometimes, just for kicks, we pretend to be each other.

If we fool you, don’t get mad, it’s just that every now and then, introversion feels good on me, and extroversion feels good to her.

What fun being sisters with a woman who loans me her personality once in a while.

Rosemary & Jackie
Rosemary & Jackie


Read: Call me Dots!