Monday, August 5, 2013

Little sister

Back in the Disney era of “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,”  I was obsessed with their soundtracks.  I would ask for the cassette recording for Christmas and play it over and over, with nearly everyone in the family memorizing the songs along with me (Under the sea, Under the SEA!).  Each movie was a big deal, right?  You remember?

And Aladdin was the next and brightest star.  Sitting around our twinkling tree on Christmas Eve, with the missionaries joining us, we each opened one present, youngest to eldest.  Right before it was my turn, my sister Ashley opened her gift and there it was – a cassette.  THE cassette.  The Aladdin soundtrack.

I don’t remember what I said, but there were screams, stomping of feet, and a snotty eleven-year old face.  I ran to my room (or was commanded to my room? that is probably likely), hot with anger and embarrassment all at the same time.  And when my gulping sobs subsided, my little sister was next to me, handing me the cassette and telling me I could have it.  I felt so much shame, but even more love.

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Last summer I took Carina with me to California to attend my grandmother’s memorial.  It was a hustle to get there , and I didn’t really allow myself any grieving time before we got there.  I was too busy with decisions and packing.

The day of the memorial was rushed and stressful.  Eight of us Jeppsons were staying in a hotel an hour or so from the memorial and we had various tasks to complete on our way there. We started running behind and never caught up.  As we drove through the LA traffic that never ever stopped (seriously – traffic in the middle of the day?!), it suddenly completely stopped.  Completely. Every car on the freeway, not moving, with dead open space ahead as police motorcycles blocked the flow of traffic.  My mind spun through our options of somehow getting through the impossible mess.

I flew here all the way from North Carolina, and I am going to miss my grandma’s memorial. 

Just as suddenly, the motorcycles moved and so did we.

We made it on time and found seats.  I could finally breathe and feel and reflect.  All the grandchildren filed to the front of the room, and we sang,

I am a Child of God

and tears stung my eyes by the time we finished.

And then directly after that, ten minutes into the memorial, Carina started her infamous shrieks.  I did my best sacrament-meeting-style scoot out of the room with her and stood at the back to listen.  She continued to shriek, so we left the room altogether, standing by the door where I could hear.  More shrieks, until we were far down the hall next to the parked motorized scooters.  Here, Carina said nothing, and I heard nothing.

I didn’t hear a word of my Grandma’s eulogy.

I left the memorial with a heart full of grief never released. And anger. Anger that wrapped me up tight. I sat dully at the luncheon  among my relatives that I hadn’t seen in person for years and couldn’t get any words out without Carina fussing at me…. and I just couldn’t care about anyone or anything right then but that anger.

Then my sister Ashley walked up with Claire, Carina’s quiet cousin twin, and offered to take them both to the playground for a few minutes.

In her own time of grief, she had noticed.

I felt 11 again.

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I visited my sister in her home last week, for the very first time. 

You know how you read those books or blog posts about cleaning and they tell you that everything should have a place?  Everything.  And then you feel like GREAT, yeah, sure.  Someday. Well, I slept in Ashley’s room and opened her pantry and her hall closet.  And that is her home. Organized, efficient, deliberate. All those somedays in my little head, right there, manfiested in my little sister’s house.

And though I swear I am an independent and capable person when I am at home, when I was at Ashley’s I kept finding myself being taken care of.  Plans made for me about where and when to get my oil changed.  Diapers changed before I had a chance to grab my wipes.  Homemade vegan muffins made before I even arrived. Midnight in Austenland sitting on the nightstand next to my (Ashley’s) bed.

All making me feel like I was the little sister,

but only in a good way.

It’s a gift.

3 comments:

Levi said...

She really is a great lil' sis! Wish we could see her more often. I have found myself really craving some time with my siblings lately.

Christie said...

Trying to upload an audio file of the memorial to our Parkins group on FB right now.

Ashley said...

Okay, I totally do not remember that Aladdin story - you sure it wasn't the other way around? :) Sounds a lot more like me than you!

Before the visits from you and Christie I was really stressing out because my house is so unorganized right now and it was driving me crazy that I just didn't have the time to get it the way I wanted. But like I said when Christie was coming - I have shared a room with you both, so I wasn't too worried about it :)

I have more respect for people who keep their home organized even when it is something they don't do naturally. :)

And you knew my hormonal problem right now - thanks for the good cry!