Bittersweet Moments

2/16/13
With my sister Patti, at this moment flying out of the United States, I already feel a loss. It’s not like we saw each other a lot over the last few years, even though we both lived in Las Vegas. Holidays, 4th of July and birthday’s throughout the year is when we’d get together. But it still is hard to know that she is gone from here. Thank God for SKYPE!

Patti and I are only 2 1/2 years apart and had a really happy childhood. We had the Ozzie and Harriet upbringing. We shared a bedroom early on and the first time I saw ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, (she must have been maybe 3), she awoke in the night screaming, fearing that the munchkins were residing under her pillow. I remember laughing and thinking ‘You are so weird.” We got into trouble as children, mainly her, but we still managed to grow up into pretty decent people.

I do confess, I was somewhat of an instigator when we were younger. Whenever some fracas would arise, I would somehow come out smelling like a rose. Not all the time, but a lot of the time.

She only attended Catholic school with me for a year or so before we moved to Saugus. I had my own little neighbor friend back then and she had no one. I sure didn’t want her playing with me anyway. One day, the girl I would spend my afternoons playing with, had a massive field, a few acres, that her family owned behind her home. These boys were bothering us so we ‘invited’ Patti over to play with us. She must have been 7? We put her in front and center of us and told her to ‘throw rocks at those boys.” She did it and in return, got hit in the forehead, split it open and had to have stitches to close the wound. She didn’t play with us again after that.

When we lived in North Hollywood, there was a German family who lived near us. They were new to the area, recently moving to the U.S. and they had a daughter named ‘Zelda’ who was Patti’s age– I’ll say 6 years old. It was a day or so before Christmas and Zelda was explaining to us the German version of how St. Nick comes on Christmas eve. Patti informed her that “Santa does NO T come to your house on Christmas Eve and set up the tree. If the tree wasn’t up earlier in the month, he wasn’t coming.” I remember being there listening and I knew ”OOoh she’s going to get it………!”

Every Saturday late afternoon, my dad would take Patti and I to the church for our weekly confession. He’d drop us off and wait in the car. (Wish I could have done that dad ). I had a routine down pat, every week. I would go into the confessional booth and lie to the priest. Lie! I was a little kid, I didn’t have any sins! I knew I must have committed some dastardly deed and I knew the priest’s wanted to hear what sorry state of a soul I had, so I had the same list of things each week: I didn’t do my homework, I talked back to my mom, I hit my sister. (Well the last was probably true). After I’d be given my penance (be absolved from mortal sins) , I’d always be told to ”Say 10 Hail Mary’s and the Act of Contrition” (and my ‘sins’ certainly didn’t fit my definition of mortal sins)! I would get up to the altar, knee down to begin my prayers and Patti would be up there, kneeling too. We did anything but pray! Just whisper and look around at the murals on the front of the church. Such good Catholic girls!

Patti had a horrible temper (still does) and that caused a lot of her problems. There were many times when she’d shoot off her mouth to my dad and it wouldn’t be unusal to see her sprinting to the neighboring hills like a Kenyan, with my dad in hot pursuit. (He’d never catch her and she’d come back down when she cooled off).

She was a prankster too. And she wasn’t afraid to say anything to anyone. (Not one to ‘hold back’). One time in junior high, her and a neighbor kid were walking up our street and she made a derogatory comment (yeah, it was) about a little boy who was out front with his parents. My dad had just gotten home from work, and I think (as the story goes), he saw my sister being pulled up the street by her ear from the father of the kid she just ‘dissed’. Dad had a fit and even though my dad was angry with the guy dragging her along, she did get punished for her nasty comment to his son.

Another time, in the summer, my dad would come home from work, change out of his work clothes and slip on his swim trunks and jump in the pool. Patti, who was 16, had this bright idea to toss at him, a very long, realistic looking rubber snake as he was in mid air. The look on his face and the uncontrollable laughter roaring from her, got her in hot water. Again. A week or so later, I was out by the pool and she came out, fully dressed and ready to go to her evening job at Kmart. She was showing me her new shoes. Out comes my dad, in his swim trunks and he walked to the deep end to do his nightly jumping in, but this time he grabbed her and threw her into the pool. He said it was pay back for the snake antic she pulled. I thought she was going to have a stroke from her anger! She screamed and ranted about her new shoes. They were ruined.

I had her do my dirty work too. Not so much dirty work- more or less ‘stupid handiwork’. I was such a shy girl and had no confidence at all. I remember one afternoon, I saw in the classifieds that there was a job at a dental company looking for someone to make dentures (or something like that). I was too much of a wuss to call and ask for an appointment, so I begged her to do it. “Sure, no problem Lori. Hand me the phone.” I sat right next to her and told her to get me an appointment and to answer any of the questions they asked. She told me not to worry, that “I’ll repeat what they ask and you can figure out what they want and then you tell me what to say.” (Yeah, this sounds like a plan worthy of employment). So she calls the number and I can feel my face turning red already. She inquires about the job and then tells them my age (17), that I have a car, and then she gets this strange look on her face and say’s “My hands?” And then the words ”I like…….” Now I can’t hear what the person on the phone is asking so brains here assumes they want to know what I like to do as a hobby. (NeveR ASSUME ANYTHING)! WRONG guess! I start swinging my arms as if I am swinging a tennis racket, and I start galloping around the kitchen trying to show I am riding a horse (and using imaginary reins to swat the horse’s rear end), and then act out swimming free style. Oh, and rolling a bowling ball. Patti begins telling the person “I play tennis, and ride horses and love to swim, bowl” and some other things I am sure I threw out there. She hangs up and tells me “They aren’t hiring.” I was a little disappointed (and wondering then WHY did they place an ad?). I asked her why were they asking about my hands? I then find out that they asked her how my manual dexterity was becasue I would be using intricate tools. I said to her, “Why didn’t you tell me that? Instead of me looking like a complete doofus with my ‘horse back riding’ charades?” She admitted she had NO idea what manual dexterity meant and if I didn’t like how she handled it, I should have done it myself! True.

In high school she played on a softball team and her team played an away game which was an hour’s drive from our home. She had rode the bus with the team and she didn’t agree with an umpire’s call (putting it nicely) and she flew off the handle. My parents were called- if I remember correctly- and she almost did not have a ride back to her high school.

With everyone and their uncle getting their first job at Magic Mountain, she was hired. She worked one day and then quit. She was in housekeeping- which I think would have been a blast because you can ROAM AROUND the park and not be in one spot- like I was. On her first day, someone barfed after going on one of the many spinning rides that Magic Mountain had to offer, and she was called to clean it up. Not a chance! She wouldn’t even change our baby sister Lisa’s diaper at home. There was NO WAY she’d be hosing off some total strangers emptied stomach remains!

I wasn’t allowed to go on a date to the drive-in alone…. dad’s rule (even though I dated the guy for over a year already). I could go if ‘she went along’. Nothing like 3′s a crowd. It wasn’t. My boyfriend had a brother her age and we 4 would go, even though Patti and the brother were not interested in each other. They would take off during the movie and saunter through the drive in doing God knows what. To this day she say’s she was paid to take off, I don’t remember that.

Camping on the beach in Carptinteria was always fun. Her bright idea one afternoon was to walk to this small tide pool and ‘look’ at sea life. Before I know it, she is talking me in to prying starfish off the craggy rocks. As I am prying away, holding these beautifully shaped starfish, and placing them in a bucket, I look up and a Park Ranger is staring at me, then proceeds to inform me that what I am doing is illegal. I start tossing these starfish in the water and the Ranger warned me and then left. Patti was standing there, grinning at me. I was 17 and would never have done that if she hadn’t encouraged me. Patti was still smirking and said something like “Finally, you get nailed for something.”

In our adult years we had a lot of good times and I will focus on all the those times until I see her again. I hope she enjoys all that Canada has to offer, and if she needs more “Lawry’s Taco Seasoning” and ‘Green Onion Dip Mixes”, I’ll be happy to ship you them. Love You sister!

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