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My beautiful sister.

December 17, 2015

Carol and I love to sit and talk.  And talk.  And talk.

December 16, 2015

Morning.  Phone rang.  I let it go to message.  [sleep]  Phone rang.  I answered.  My sister Carol asked me over to Jon’s.  I found clothes, took morning medicine, drank coffee, gathered sister’s Christmas presents.

As I scurried, I envisioned myself behaving like sister.  Chubby feet going this way and that.  Hurrying to get out of the house.  One cannot leave as quickly as when I was younger.  Had to do with being fussy about socks.  Ones that match.  I remember thinking, these socks match.  They were blue.  Gold toe.

Okay.  My sister is ten years older than I.  Maybe 30 years ago, my friend Mike Fiedler talking about his older brother, declared:  “he was always good to me!”  Since then I’ve said the same thing about my sister.  It’s a duty to honor one’s sister.  Sure, she used to spank me as a child, reprimand me sometimes, but altogether she has been good to me.  Sisterly.  I do love her!  She is a trial!  But I love her!  She has bipolar disorder!!  Love!

The first time I remember even having a sister, maybe when I was three, our Daddy had yelled at her to wash the dishes.  I thought fire came from his throat!  What a temper!  He was magnificently a college professor and an artist of the first water.  In fact, our mother used that expression, “of the first water.”  He died when we were still children, but his memory looms large, as they say.  My sister says she thinks his anger had to do with him having bipolar disorder.  Who can disagree? She said his mania manifested as a bad temper.  Carol knows all about mental illness.

She, on the other hand, her mania manifests as generosity.  She buys things with her credit card.  Nice things, like Persian rugs and porcelain.  Mania.  She told me she loves her mania,  She said she earned it.  With depression she endured!  Hypomania, I corrected her.  She agreed.  Hypomania.  Good.

In their teens, back in the 1950s, my sister and her friends played with me as though I were a doll.  To them I was a doll, because they were ten when I was born. Of course, I liked it.  They swung me around, tickled me, took me places.  I remember holding onto a pair of their hands on the sidewalk and they’d leap me along, by lifting me up as they ran.  I pedaled my feet in the air, then took a couple steps, then pedaled again.  I forget where we were going.  Ice cream, maybe.

Oh, they bathed me too, but I didn’t like it.  I mean, the teenage girls didn’t hang out with me in the bathroom or look at me, at my privates, but they made me bathe after I’d been up on Mount Sentinel getting infested with ticks.  Bathing was a huge inconvenience for me, but they had wanted me to do the correct things.  For health.  They cut no corners where I was concerned.

Today at Jon’s, my sister was laying on a recliner when I got there.  No.  I remember that she met me at Jon’s front door, but then she retreated to the recliner.  She told me about an author she liked, whose name I can’t remember.  I’ll get back to that later.

More importantly to me, she told me about her dog that she had had for only about a week, I guess, before she got rid of it.  It had a name, like “Skippy,” or something.  The dog is gone, so it’s a moot point.

Carol said she spent $400 on the small dog that didn’t pan out.  Her psychiatrist had told her, no, ordered her, to get a lapdog.  A service dog.  So she did.  She went to the pound in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, her home town, and paid $160 to have the small dog spayed and vaccinated.  And to pay the pound fee.  I forget what breed it was.  A mutt, no doubt.  She said it weighed about 12 pounds.

All was well.  The dog cuddled her.  It liked to sleep on her bed.  It did all of the affectionate things a dog can do.  In turn, Carol bought it a kennel, a bed, some food, a dish to hold the food, and other appurtenances, like a leash.  How could this have run up a bill to $400?  Well, now you know something about my sister.  She exaggerates.  I used to call her a liar.  She tore into me a few times, but she now accepts the label.

What happened?  Her service dog shit on her rug time after time.  She said she walked her new dog, did all of the right things.  The dog did not shit on her $3000 Persian rug, but she had to pay to have her apartment carpet cleaned.  Finally, she got rid of her dog.  Sent it back to the pound.  Carol said she no longer even considers getting a lap dog, a service dog.  She wants no dog because she travels too much.

My sister has had a long, good life.  I think she has, anyway.  At 18, she married a law school student fresh out of the Army.  I was in the 2nd grade.  Four years later they had their first child, and I became an uncle.  I loved that role.  It meant I could beat that child into submission.  Today, I’m thinking that’s why he feels resentment.  I don’t know.  I’m not sure he remembers,but he keeps me at arm’s length.

Carol had baby after baby.  Seven in all with her husband, the law student, then lawyer.  (She lost the 2nd, stillborn.) Carol’s houses kept getting bigger and bigger.  My brother Tom tried to keep up with her and keep her houses painted.  In turn, Carol took care of my brother.  He had schizophrenia.  Perhaps bipolar disorder as well?  She and I helped Tom get disability insurance payments.

Then Carol’s husband started fucking his secretary and Carol’s marriage ended.  On her own, she moved first to Arizona where she scraped out a living in Wickenberg, teaching and tending bar.  Then she married a jolly bearded gravel-pit owner and they moved to Alaska.  There she taught school until she retired with a good pension.  Her second husband ran away, so she dumped him.  Both of Carol’s husbands have since died.  She is a double widow.

Here’s what my sister ended up with:  she gets a generous retired teacher’s pension from Alaska.  Her six children are all successful adults.  Two are lawyers; another, the oldest and arguably the smartest, is an excellent house painter; her youngest has a PhD in biochemistry and lives in Berkeley, California; Jon is a mental health counselor and finally, her one daughter is the mother of five and married to a police detective in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Carol has about a dozen grand-children.  And one brother.  Me.

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