The Steel in Her Eye
I have no defensible excuse for myself. From the age of about seven to the age of about 10, I was a little terrorist to my younger sister, my Irish twin at 11 months younger than me. I was my grandmother‘s favorite; while I was also the first grandchild. I was very smart. I got excellent grades in school, and I moved to honor classes. My grandma was all about academics and was very proud of me. My younger sister was not an academic student, but instead she caught the eye of every boy in the classroom, and several other classrooms. This was something that my mother deemed more important than good grades. Therefore, my mother diminished me for my grades and praised my sister even though her grades were all C’s because the teacher would write to my mother “she would do better if she wouldn’t fool around with the boys so much.” I suppose you could say therefore that there was some animosity there, or perhaps I just felt that in my own home I was not loved.
However, I knew at my grandmother’s house I was quite loved. My grandmother always got a copy of our report cards and to my grandmother academics was everything, therefore I became the golden child even more so. During the year, but certainly during most of the summer, my mother would send me to spend time with my grandmother. My grandmother had the same house that all of her children were raised in, including my mother. In the beginning, my mother only sent me to spend time with my grandmother. It would be a weekend during the school year and grandma would pick me up in her car because my mom certainly didn’t have a car, and my grandma would take me to her house.
I would sleep on a cot in her bedroom next to her bed. Every night, she would sit in her bed and read before going to sleep, and I would sit in my cot and read before going to sleep. Grandma always made me go outside. Go outside. Go outside. That’s when I learned to love climbing trees. Grandma had great trees. Get a book, sit on the lounge chair and go outside. So, most of the time when I was at grandma’s house I did a lot of reading. Of course, this helped me with my academics. Grandma however was fair or whenever she bought gifts you bought the same amount of gifts for all three of us girls. I don’t know how or when it occurred, but my mother decided why not send my sister along with me to spend the weekend with grandma. I have two younger sisters; one is what I call my Irish twin because she has 11 months younger than me and the other is five years younger than me. My mother never sent my youngest sister to grandma’s house because she was chubby, and grandma would call her Crisco in the can. I didn’t like when she did that; as a matter fact I really didn’t like when grandma did mean things.
But there was that side of me as a child that was also mean. Yes, I’ll admit it. There was a time as a child when I did mean things. Unfortunately, the only person I did the mean things to I guess or fortunately is my Irish twin. So, one weekend we were at grandma’s house and I took one of grandma’s best sheets. I put it over Colleen‘s head, put a hat like a bonnet on her head where her face was against the back of the hat in and the back of her head was a blank sheet. I then took marker and drew a face on the sheet. I called grandma, grandma. Then grandma left the kitchen and walked into the living room. We were in the bedroom. I guided Colleen out and said OK walking to the room she had no idea that I had done this. Grandma said dammit you little worm. That was what she said to us girls up whenever she was mad, she would call us a little worm. I was so bad; my sister me was running around the room trying to get away from grandma slapping her, and I was in the bedroom holding my crotch so I wouldn’t pee my pants. Of course, eventually grandma found out that it was me, and I got in trouble but I continued to do naughty things. When grandma would pick us up to come and spend the weekend with her I would sit in the front seat and my sister would sit in the back of the ‘66 Impala. Then during the drive for absolutely no reason whatsoever except for that I had some kind of distorted mindset, I said to grandma, grandma Colleen’s picking her nose and wiping it on in your car. Of course, the next thing that followed wise, your little worm. My sister would cry, grandma, I’m not Kathleen is lying. Unfortunately, my grandmother always believed me.
When I became an adult, I guess around 30 years old, after all of the trials and tribulations of the 20s, I wrote a long letter to my sister deeply apologizing for the things that I had done. She was grateful for the letter, she said she hadn’t even really remembered most of those things. I did, I remembered. It was a bad thing to do, and I needed to apologize to my sister and accept that there were times I was a mean little girl. Of course, there were many times far far far more many times where I protected my sisters from my mother’s drunken boyfriends who would sneak into the bedroom. But that’s a story for another day.