By Madge Cook Wylie
Most of us spend our first 18 years or so with our siblings. Then, we grow up, go to work or get married and we grow away from those brothers and sisters.
My siblings and I had occasion to come together at my sister’s home in Portland the week before Thanksgiving. We seldom get the opportunity for all of us to get together in one location. And now that we have all four exceeded our seven allotted decades, it is a little difficult to get anywhere. Jane’s children were there and their children. Her daughters slept in the spare room.
I was delegated to sleep in Jane’s bed with her. First of all, she had flannel sheets on the bed – something I hadn’t seen since we slept in the brooder house on our farm in Glendale. Then, her day started at 4 a.m. (I get up and make a pit stop at 4 o’clock and go back to bed for three more hours.) Her schedule is to sew for three hours, then walk for one hour and then start her day.
Portland is a very conscientious town about recycling. Jane has three depositories for garbage. Carl, her husband, passed on the day we arrived. People began coming and of course there was food galore. The first thing was for everyone to figure out which container the garbage went into. There was food garbage and paper garbage and then everything else garbage.
She announced her naptime every so often, but did not waste that time. She turned on the music and read so many pages. Various kids and relatives proceeded to prowl through the refrigerator and freezer to fix meals. The input and outgo of the freezer were itemized on a paper taped on the outside. Her spices were in alphabetical order. Part of the order of her day was to play a few games of Free Cell on the computer. Then it was time for the evening news. She watched the local news on the NBC station, then watched the national news; then turned to another station and watched the national news to see if it agreed with the last report. Such foibles were pretty visible since we don’t even see each other once a year some years.
I can hardly believe we hatched out of the same womb. I am a natural-born slob with no organization skills whatsoever. I see my mother in the mirror every day.
Jane’s daily attire, except for Sunday, is a pair of bib overalls. They hold her dust rag and assorted indoor tools, as well as gardening tools for the “garden room” and the outdoor plants. And she putters. That’s what our mother did. (I never made it to the back yard for the last two summers.)
Our brothers showed up. Larry, who follows Jane in the line-up keeps a pristine garden and flowerbed in Seattle. Lee, the businessman in the family, who incidentally owns the Two-Hole Bar & Grill in Melba, was there with his ever-present ability to entertain. He quoted poetry to the old folks and sang songs to the kids.
As kids we played together better than most kids. We swam in the ditch together and played ball and climbed on top of the haystack to sleep in the summertime. As older people, it is interesting to observe our differences. (That is probably to do with the outside influence of spouses). It is interesting to see the quiet humor of our dad in Larry, and the director of activities of our mother in Jane. I, of course, tend to criticize.
We look forward to getting together again where we will laugh and talk about the olden days, and always with a different perspective from the other because of the age difference.