Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Me And The Tag-a-Longs

We three sisters spent a lot of time together after we moved to California. For a while, we had no one but ourselves to hang out with and since I already had my driver's license before leaving Minnesota, we'd all pile in the station wagon and head out. This photo was taken in Tijuana shortly after relocating to CA. That was one place our folks wouldn't let us go by ourselves. That was fine with us.  People kept sneaking up behind us to touch our hair--without even asking. Guess they'd never seen real blondes before. Whatever the reason, none of us liked being the center of attention so we stuffed ourselves between our parents and that ended it. Nobody argued with dad. Didn't matter that he didn't speak Spanish. Just the look he gave them drove them off.

I am the oldest of three girls. Dad always complained that he was surrounded by females but as we grew older, we'd chuck him under the chin and tell him that we knew he liked it. He's laugh and say, "I suppose so."

My middle sister and I have always been about as close as twins, being only 16 months apart. The youngest sister, 5 years my junior, was the typical "little sister." For many years, a big pain in the you-know-what. She lived and breathed to tattle on what we two oldest were doing--especially the day we decided to make clay dolls with full body parts. Her little legs ran so fast that day we hardly had time to tear off the offending parts we didn't want mom to see. In desperation we tried locking her out of our room but it didn't work. The door had no key. We did pull and tug on our overgrown wooden toy box and finally managed to get it in front of the closed door. We looked at one another and said, "There, now we can play in peace." That was right before we heard her feet clamping across the hardwood floors and her mouth screaming, "Mommy, mommy, they won't let me in." 

Thus ended our independence as the two Legler girls.

So now we were three and although the youngest was far removed from our age group, mom always insisted we let her play with us. So we two oldest would play paper dolls or put puzzles together or read books to one another. We loved to paint with watercolors and since baby sister thought she could do as well as us, we gave her an old brush and a leftover paint book. We showed her what to do. She liked our books better. So she scribble painted on our pictures. We complained to mom over and over again and all we got for our trouble was advice to play nice.

 I distinctly remember the last time mom came into our playroom to referee. I boldly told her that if little sister colored on our pages again, we'd paint her. She did; we did. Little as she was, she ran off crying, so ready to tattle again. Mom was most upset seeing her baby all colors of red and blue and green and purple and orange get the picture. We'd painted her good. "Why did you do that?" Mom demanded. Of course you know what I said. "I told you we'd paint her if she bothered her anymore." I got the shame on you lecture and mom took the baby off to the bath tub. Might I say we two oldest never were punished for our colorful body painting. That was the day it dawned on me that if I told someone what I was going to do under certain circumstances, I wouldn't get in trouble. At least I didn't think so.

Sisters 3 and nobody is blonde anymore. As we grew older our hair turned into a muddy blonde none of us liked. So we did something about it. Lady Clairol to the rescue.
We sisters are close. Our parents are long gone but the three of us try our best to stay in touch. We all live within 45 miles of each other and while I had the where-with-all to retire, both sisters continued working. Since they still have jobs, it's not always easy making plans. But while we might not be together in body, we are together in heart and mind. When I'm in the hospital or home recouperating, they drop everything and come alongside me. They'll cook, do laundry, grocery shop, clean the house--whatever is needed and all without being asked or feeling put upon.

 When one sister's husband walked out on her, leaving her with 3 young kids, Jim and I did the same for her. When Jim passed away so suddenly and without warning, baby sister was here within a couple of hours, suitcase in hand, crying with her own grief of losing a brother-in-law who was more a big brother than any kind of in-law. She'd known him since she was the age in the beginning photo--taken about a year before Jim and I eloped. He was part of her life for a long time. I always knew she truly loved him. Both of my sisters did. And he loved them back.

Looking back, I can see that our parents were right in demanding that little sister be part of we two older girls life. How easy it would have been to close her out and go about our playtime as the two Legler girls. After all, she was so much younger. Little by little, she became our same age. I'm not sure how she worked it, but there came the day when we were all married, all moms, all busy with everyday life and no age difference existed between us. We could all hang out together and have such a good time, no one wanted to go home. A strong bond had formed. We were a rope of three cords and not easily broken. When others criticized one of us, the rest of us formed a tight circle, refusing to let further wounds alight. We defended one another, regardless of what our personal feelings might be.

In all of our years together, we have seldom had a fight of any consequences. Not even after our parents had passed away and everybody informed us we'd all fight dividing up their estate. We determined we wouldn't let that happen and it didn't. We were in agreement that whatever each of us personally desired would be granted. Should we all want it, we'd draw straws. Once we three sisters had spoken our choices, we opened the house to our children to take what they wanted. When the bones still weren't picked clean, we let the grandchildren in. The few things that were truly worth money, we kept in the family. Better to pass it down than sell it.

My sisters are my best friends. I've known them longer than I've known my own children. They were beside me before I met Jim and supported me every year thereafter. We have been each others secret keepers, companions, and story tellers. We know things about each other that we'll never reveal. Yet we joke about some of the dumb things we've done--singularly or as a trio. It doesn't take much to get us laughing till the tears run. And while I sometimes refer to them as the Tag-A-Longs on Jim's and my honeymoon, I have never sulked about them being there. In truth, it sort of set the stage for the rest of our lives. For when the kids are grown and the grandkids are busy with school or jobs, and the beloved husband has passed, it just seems comfortable and right to revert to what was in the beginning. The three Legler girls. Still much the same as we once were except that we no longer paint little sister.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companon. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not easily broken."  Ecc 4: 9-12

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L Keith, All rights reserved
Photos are the property of the author and may not be reproduced without permission

1 comment:

  1. i've always wondered what it would be like to have two sisters instead of just one. and i've also wondered what it would be like if my sister weren't 7 years younger than me. but i'm also finding that as i get older, we have more things in common. someday maybe i will be close with my sister, but that day has yet to come. however, i love you and both of your sisters. all three of you are delicious! :)