Tag Archives: sisters

Blemishes

31 Oct

Today, I had the opportunity to take a day off work. Professorgrrl had a meeting about 80 miles away in a town with a major university. We decided to meet my parents for lunch, to celebrate my mother’s birthday, which is tomorrow, and then afterwards, while professorgrrl had her meeting, I would walk around the campus with my camera and take photos if I came upon something interesting.

I debated which camera lens to take with me on my walk…the short one, which is good for architectural shots (which I like to take) or the long zoom lens, good for close-up shots. I took the short lens and began my trek. I was in a city, after all, with lots of buildings and I felt sure I would find some interesting angle of some old building to shoot. When I am in “shooting” mode, my senses, especially visual, are on high alert.

I walked about two blocks and noticed this large, old oak tree. Though gnarly, and very halloweeny-looking at night, I’m sure, it still bore the leaves of the passing season. What really caught my eye, though, was a large knot hole way up in the tree which had another knot hole inside of it. “Wow,” I thought, “I have never seen anything like this.” I think it’s amazing that I have lived 52 years and I can still see something new. Of course, I had my short lens, so I knew it would be a waste of time to photograph it, because the knot hole would be so small in the picture. I continued walking and decided I would go back to the car and get the zoom lens later after I had walked around a block or two.

While walking, I pondered this “blemish” of the oak tree. I wondered how many people had walked by this very tree and had never noticed the blemish inside. There are many of us who walk around with obvious physical blemishes. I think, perhaps, because they’re so obvious, we are forced to reckon with them on some level. I know I have…both as a child and as an adult, whether I wanted to or not. My “abnormal” gait has always been so visibly obvious, that I had to deal with the questions and stares and even negative comments from an early age. My childhood doctors were constantly encouraging me to practice walking like a young lady. My mother had me to balance books on my head and practice walking with them down our hallway.  It was very apparent to me that there was a right way to walk and a wrong way to walk. I am sure the doctors and my parents all had my best interests at heart. However, one time I practiced making myself walk “ladylike” in front of my sister and I asked her to tell me what she thought. She said it looked funny when I tried to do that because it didn’t look like ME. That was the last time I ever tried to fix my gait. It was too hard anyway.

Then I began to think of the folks who walk around with a hidden blemish…like the knot on the inside of the larger knot of that oak tree. Perhaps others don’t know what is happening inside of them, and so no one knows that the person with the “inner blemish” might need help or encouragement. I wondered today, as I walked past people on the street, if someone I passed might suffer from depression or anxiety or learning disabilities, but they keep that part of themselves hidden because it is just easier to hide than to risk being singled out or feeling like an outsider. Sadly, they might also miss out on getting support from others because no one knows their pain. I had no choice but to deal with my blemish…it could not be hidden. In some ways, I feel very fortunate, if for nothing else but to hear my sister imply that I should just be ME, which includes walking the way I naturally walk. You can spot me a mile away…

So, these were my thoughts as I ambled around this afternoon. I did return to the car, exchanged the short lens for the zoom lens and returned to the old oak tree with the “blemish within a blemish.” I sat down on a stone wall, and lifted the camera to take aim at the knot hole and got a big surprise!

I laughed out loud. “Banjogrrl,” I thought, “maybe sometimes you can overthink a thing…”

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

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A Tribute to My Sister and to Power

22 May

Today is my sister’s 50th birthday. Included in the photograph “1964” that I posted on May 2nd is my sister, who is standing second from the right. She is grinning, wearing a checked dress and her fingers are in her mouth. We are not twins, though we look like we’re about the same height. In this photo, I am 4 years old and she is 2 years old. She is XLH-free and grew up to what I consider to be very tall…about 5’8”. Though we weren’t twins, my mother sewed look-alike clothes for us that we wore to church. People probably thought we were twins, until she started growing like a weed! Although I have been shorter than her ever since then, I was still her bossy big sister. I had a LOT of power! She would do anything for me. I guess that’s the power of being the first-born child, though I lost that power when my brother was born. He had no idea I was supposed to be in charge.

My sister and I were very different from each other. I was either reading a book or playing outdoors with a ball or a bike. I also liked to draw. My sister liked to play with baby dolls and play house. She used to ask me if I would play house with her. “Sure,” I’d say, “you go ahead and set it all up and let me know when you’re ready.” So, she’d set up “house” with her Barbie and Skipper dolls, and sometime later tell me that she was ready for me, but by then I had moved on to some other activity, most likely outdoors, and was not interested in coming back inside to play “house.” I am sure I disappointed her a lot! I guess I abused the power that I had in my kingdom. Though she was never able to domesticate me, fortunately, she found a husband who could be domesticated.

When she was in 4th or 5th grade, she told me how babies were made. This is something a “big” sister is supposed to tell her little sister, not the other way around! But, she had learned this forbidden information from a friend. Being very sure of myself, I told her she was absolutely wrong about that and since I was older, I should know, and that was not how it was done. Turns out, she was actually right. I guess nothing in my Beverly Cleary books had prepared me for this new and unsettling information.

I remember at some point, during my teenage years, being envious of her beauty and her long, straight legs and tallness. People always treated her like she was her age or older, while they treated me like I was just a kid or young squirt. I received many condescending pats on my head up until my mid-twenties, and I am pretty sure she never got pats on her head after the age of six. But I was still her “big” sister and had a lot of power with her.

I did receive accolades for my artistic and musical talent, while she was getting praise for her outgoing personality and her beauty. I think this bothered her…she probably wanted some more tangible way to get attention in the world. Don’t we all?

Now, though, I am pretty sure that people, even those who only know her a little bit, are amazed by her wisdom. I have watched her rear three beautiful children and I have never ceased to be amazed by her wise ways of teaching them and preparing them for the world and adulthood. That kind of talent is not something you can learn in a book. I think it is just her natural gift, genetic, if you will. She will tell me a story of something that has happened with one of her children, and her response to the situation and I find myself thinking, “How did she know the perfect thing to say? How did she become so wise? I would have never thought of that!” I am pretty sure that the world is a better place because she brought children into it. She is not only a great human being, but also an exceptional mother. She has sacrificed a lot to be the best parent possible, and I think it has paid off. Don’t get me wrong…I am well loved by her children. I am Aunt Banjogrrl. I run “Camp Banjogrrl” in the summer. I am fun and silly and am willing to teach them how to make any craft or play any stringed instrument that they want to learn. If I don’t know how to do it, I will learn with them. They love me and respect me. I have some power with her children.

But…to my niece and my nephews, my sister is “Mama.” She doesn’t need an “inner warrior.”

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© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017