Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Sister Mary

My sister, Mary.
I  met her when I was about 18 months old.
I wasn't particularly impressed.
But, I was pretty much just into myself; at that age; I'm embarrassed to say.
She was a little over 2 at the time.
I had been adopted into the same family as her, by parents who were a God-send, pure and simple to both of us, though we wouldn't appreciate it, maybe not until now; because kids don't appreciate anything. They are a bunch of spoiled brats. And we were pretty typical.
I guess our adoptive parents wanted a girl and a boy; to round out a family.
Mary was older than me, as stated above. 
She flaunted it over me; at the onset.
Girls develop faster than boys, and I quickly found myself at a disadvantage in such cases as when, we were standing in front of my grandfathers house on 18 Thomas Street in Fitchburg, around 1966, and we were being presented (I would say "introduced," but toddlers aren't really introduced, they are, presented) to a contemporary of my grandfathers.
He (the contemporary) was probably a pretty important and prominent figure in our community; because our grandfather was a pillar of the community; having been the chief of police for years; and having led the 4th of July parade for years to where "the whole city" waited to watch the fireworks. He had fought in World War 1 and had brought back souvenirs.
I remember standing there, all smiles; looking up at whomever it was that we were being introduced to; and hearing my sister say; "I'm 5, and he's 4."
I felt inferior for the first time in my life; and as if I had some catching up to do; and I resolved to become 5, no matter what.
Looking back now, I can see that it made me stronger. and I thank my sister, now.

My sister was called "Mary Ellen," until we reached junior high school, at which point, she dropped the "Ellen" and became just Mary.
We just always called her Mary Ellen; when we were small; but I somehow knew she would eventually drop the Ellen, just as I shucked off "Danny" and became "Daniel" It was a rite of passage.
Around 8th Grade
I guess Mary Ellen thought that it would be cooler to do so; and I think that the TV show, popular at the time, "The Waltons," which portrayed a character named Mary Ellen had something to do with that. And I can understand anybody wanting to dissociate themselves with that particular show.
The character "John Boy,"  had an unsightly "birthmark" on his face.
I don't remember any of the story lines, or if they were even entertaining. All I dd from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m on Thursday nights as a 6 year old, was cringe at the sight of John Boy, hoping that one could get an ugly freckle the size of a raisin on ones face only from living way out in the country (far away from us) where they did.
We had our share of sibling rivalries, growing up.
In the summer of 1969, as we rode in the back seat of our families Plymouth Bonneville, along Cape Cod, I remember wanting to punch Mary Ellen in the head, because "Marrakesh Express," by Crosby Stills and Nash was on the radio, and she was singing along, getting into it so much that she had her eyes closed and was bobbing her head. ...Nobody should be that happy...
It was, and still is, a great song,  and she was following her bliss; with dad at the wheel and mom by his side; all of us excited about our 2 week vacation on the cape. But I remember wanting to snap her out of it, for some reason; wake her up.
She was 7 and I was 6, then, but somehow I had the wisdom to know that "It ain't always gonna be like this.." The sooner she learned that life was going to go downhill some from bobbing your head to Marrakesh Express with your eyes closed; the better for her, in my opinion.
There were body bags coming in from Vietnam being shown on the evening news each night -in color, if your family could afford the RCA.
She hated me, because I was a "show-off," and I hated her because she was a "fat head," and we reached a stalemate there. God, though, I wanted to slap that joy off her face, and derail that train to Marrakesh; but our father would have returned it to me 10 fold; and I would have learned then and there that you just don't hit a girl; ever. Even a fathead.

Then, we got to some nondescript beach (I think it was on the "ocean" side of the cape) where there were other families, toting their folding chairs and coolers and Styrofoam surfboards; and one boy of about my age and size from a nondescript family threw a clump of wet seaweed at my sister; hitting her with it.
Our dad had to pull me off of him; telling me out loud that violence never solved anything.
As I was wondering if he was going to beat me to illustrate the point, he said under his breath that he was proud of me for standing up for my sister. "All aboard that train.."   
So, my sister dropped the Ellen, and became just Mary. Good for her.
In high school, she became pretty cool, indeed; and grew into her head.
My father warned me to be on the lookout for phonies, who would try to befriend me, to get close to her.
One of her friends had a car; and would pick her up just 15 minutes before school started; and I was invited to ride along. That was when I discovered marijuana.
She got married after high school to, I guess, her high school sweetheart, Jeff (a Facebook Friend) and they had my niece, Jill (also a Facebook friend) and then, things kind of unraveled as we all became disillusioned with the bill of goods that we had been force-fed as kids growing up in middle class America; and, without going into too much detail (there are several good books on the topic, one by Ted Koppel, called "The Greatest Generation" or something) she wound up divorced; re-married and then got screwed over financially somehow; then remarried again, at last notice....
But, through it all; I've always felt like I could pick up the phone at any time and call her; and the same Mary whom I always knew would answer.
I went on to become screwed up in my own way; and now I am a street musician in New Orleans and I close my eyes and bob my head every night; to make my living.
They're taking me to Marrakesh.

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