The Forgetful Frog #13: In Search of a Sister

The Forgetful Frog
By The Forgetful Frog December 9, 2015 08:02

forgetful-frog-image3-300x2301-300x230-13My mother’s father, Paul, had raised his family by being a woodcutter in the pine forest. I was a little afraid of him, as a child.

He was mostly deaf, and all his fingers were cut short, from his years wielding an ax and a saw. He was gruff and cranky with children. Even as a very little girl, I understood this.

It was clear that my mother adored him, though she was cranky with her mother. I never became comfortable around them, as much time as we spent visiting them.

Paul was born at the turn of the century. Literally. On January 1, 1900, my maternal grandfather was born. I don’t know much about his upbringing, but as a young man, he made his living as a woodcutter. He spent his days in the pine forests of Maine, cutting trees and hauling wood.

His wife, Gladys, stayed home raising their children, and baking bread to supplement the family income. She also made scrumptious doughnuts. They raised 10 children, and lost one to typhus. My mother, Margaret, was one of the younger kids. All but one of her siblings stayed in their hometown, where I was also raised. It was a joke in school, because we all had first cousins in every class.

In all, 8,623 people lived in Old Town, Maine, when I grew up there. I was related to about 50 of them. My mother had 10 siblings, all married and raised families in or near the city of Old Town. Teachers used to joke about how many people in my family attended the school. My¬†sister and I were “the smart ones” and my cousins Debbie, Kathy, and Rhonda, were the pretty ones. Jimmy and Paul were the athletic ones.

I know that I am unusual in this way, but I have been completely out all touch with my three siblings for practically our entire adulthood.

Most important to me is my sister, Teresa. I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my other sister or my brother, by saying that. It’s just that Teresa and I are closest in age, and were childhood buddies. I looked up to her.

I emailed my sister yesterday. This would seem unremarkable, except that it’s been decades since we were in touch. My fault, entirely. She has always been supremely well adjusted. I, on the other hand, have struggled to find my place. Here I am, in my 50s, in the aftermath of a near-death experience, and finally able to address parts of life that have mystified me until now.

My relationship with my sister has not been uncomplicated. As a child, I looked up to her, without reserve. We were, indeed, pals. I always knew she was smarter than me. She was also a more accomplished musician, a faster runner, and physically, more attractive. In general, she was more confident and accomplished. If I had any advantage at all, it came from being less extraordinary, and perhaps, sometimes, fitting in a little better, as a result.

In her adult life, however, she has far exceeded my adult accomplishments. She married a brilliant man who is also supremely kind. They have raised six wonderful children. Though I have not been in touch with them, I can observe from their Internet presence that they are extraordinary.

Reading over those last few lines, I hasten to add that my husband is also extraordinary, as are his two children. It’s just that it took me much longer to find them. My sister knew, very early, what she wanted and how to find it.

Froggie reached out to her sister
To say how much she had missed her
Many years have passed
Since they spoke last
But today Froggie wanted to kiss her.

I hope it is not confusing or offensive to my readers that I have feminized Froggy by changing the spelling. At this point, reconnecting with my sister, it seems appropriate to let Froggie reflect my true gender.

To be continued…

The author, who asks to remain anonymous, is a foothills resident in her 50s who writes with the help of a computer tablet and speech-recognition software. She hopes that her notes on coping with the physical and emotional aspects of disability will help others facing difficult challenges know that they are not alone.

The Forgetful Frog
By The Forgetful Frog December 9, 2015 08:02
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