Second Hand Rose
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my sisters.
That’s me in the middle on the first day of school. I was six, I think. That would make Christine (on the left) ten, and Claudia (on the right) just shy of nine.
I loved my sisters. Although my mother will tell you that we bickered constantly. And my mother is telling the truth.
Car rides were our particular battleground. My sisters each got a window in the back seat, with my baby brother between them. He played the role of ‘Fence’. I sat in the front between my father and mother. Because no one would sit next to me. Chris still says she won’t sit next to me in the car. She says it just wouldn’t be right.
I look at Christine smiling benevolently at me in this photo. Gee, I never remember her doing that. Her most common look was disgust. She was very grown up and I imitated (and annoyed) her constantly. I read her library books. I played her records (She had a 45 record carrier with Dick Clark’s picture on the front. And Paul Anka records inside.) I drove her crazy. She was the smartest person I knew. Probably still is. And she smiles at me now like that.
Back when this picture was taken, Claudia’s whole mission in life was to make me laugh. Especially in photographs. How she could make me laugh! She was hysterical. At least I thought so at six. I was in constant peril of wetting my pants every time a camera came out. She was the funniest person I knew. Probably still is. She was born the day after Thanksgiving, and we always celebrated her birthday on Thanksgiving Day. For years she thought that we were giving thanks for the joy of her birth. I think we were.
We weren’t rich. But we didn’t feel poor either. We were just like everyone else in the neighborhood. Lots of two-family houses, lots of kids, lots of grandparents – many of whom didn’t speak much English.
With two older sisters, my wardrobe was predetermined. I wore mostly hand-me-downs.
I know many women who say they resented having to wear their sisters’ old clothes. I can understand why – but it’s funny – I never felt that way.
My sisters were my role models. I wanted desperately to be just like them. And I got to be like them a little bit when I put on their hand-me-downs. And it instilled in me the opposite of jealousy.
Oh, I was plenty jealous of my sisters. I wanted those thick curly pony tails. I wanted a later bedtime. But I didn’t have to want their clothes. I got them. And I wasn’t jealous when they got something new. I wanted nothing more than for them to have the prettiest clothes in the world. I was thrilled with every beautiful new dress they got. It was only a matter of time before it was mine.
And this was not only when I was a dumb little kid. I wore Christine’s bridesmaid’s gown to my Junior Prom. And I was delighted to wear that gorgeous dress.
Now that we are older, people constantly remark on how much we look alike. We laughed about it again yesterday at the Thanksgiving table.
I wanted to be just like them when I was small. And now I am. Can’t do much better than that.