Monday, February 4, 2008

Selective memories ... of my sister ... (part one) ...

We remember what our minds want us to remember ... what our subconscious thinks is important.

If a memory is that of a child, it may be greatly skewed. Children are easily confounded, confused, astonished, scared, and shocked.

I can remember, as a child, having a recurring nightmare of a train throwing red hot coals at me. Another one of those awful dreams was of a driverless car that kept chasing me. Ridiculous, in retrospect, but I woke up screaming nonetheless.

My memories of my sister, however, are pretty clear.

I was the middle child -- older sister, younger brother. As the second girl, I felt as tho I was always being compared to Peggy, particularly in re school grades and conduct. She was salutatorian of her high school graduating class, I was ranked 5th in mine. She had one really good friend, I had more than one. She was quiet, I was loud. She loved to read. I liked to read, as well, altho I liked to do a lot of other things, including tree-climbing, singing, and playing the clarinet, cards and word games. She was somewhat introspective, spending a lot of her time observing, thinking, taking notes, gathering her thoughts. I wanted to spend my time DOing -- note-taking, if any, would come later!

(And yet here I am, years later, retrospectively thinking and writing ... full circle?)

In her mid- to late-teen years, Peggy developed an almost compulsive need to 'adopt' any afflicted animal, much to my parents' chagrin. This "need" continued on throughout her adult life ... to 'champion' another's cause ... to 'fight' against wrong for right ... to 'speak for/rally with' someone whose cause should not be fought alone.

In retrospect, I am able to see that these were, indeed, worthy causes. However, this was in the 1950's (and even early 60's). Our parents could not begin to understand this! Peggy was an embarrassment to them. She was a tremendous source of pride, as well! They simply did not know how to act around her, or react towards her. After graduating from Carroll College (WI), Peggy went to the University of Madrid (Spain) for a year or so, doing graduate work. (Being an overt Protestant at that time in Spain was very dangerous, by the way! Peggy had to be very careful.)

We heard that there was a romantic interest, a pilot, I think. That was kind of neat! Next thing we heard was that she was going to be living in a Quaker house in Chicago. I didn't know if the pilot had passed away -- or, perhaps he was a Quaker and Peggy was moving to Chicago to be near him?

We all got infrequent, but lengthy, letters from her, but we still didn't seem to know what was really going on. Was she to be married? Was she working? How was she supporting herself? The letters seemed to be full of all sorts of 'tidbits' about people she'd met, friends she'd made, etc., but still our basic questions remained unanswered.

Meanwhile, I had gone to college and got married. Christmas one year, hubby and I were trying to get down to Chicago from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit Peggy. We encountered REALLY bad weather conditions! As a matter of fact, at one point hubby refused to drive any further. I took over, as the self-designated bad/horrendous weather driver and kept going, thinking, "We'll make it!" Well, we didn't. Thank goodness, we were able to find a motel with a vacancy.

I'm pretty sure that it was while she was residing in the Quaker house that Peggy met her husband. We did not meet him until much later, after they had moved to Groton, Connecticut.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

I'm going to be thinking of your first 2 paragraphs in this post all day long true. Good food for thought.