Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Made My Childhood Bearable.....

(One of my favorite blogs to read is Mama's Losing It. She does a writer's workshop once a week and gives out a few prompts to choose from. I've decided to take the bait this week. The prompt I chose, as you can tell by the title of this post is, " What made your childhood bearable?" I am going to dedicate this post to my sister Catha.)

My childhood was bearable. Very bearable. In fact, I consider it a happy childhood. Always a roof over my head, food on the table, and plenty of love and hugs. We were by no means wealthy, but I was unaware of that. My wealth was in comfort and love, babydolls and playing house.

I had 3 parents; my mother, my father and my sister Catha.... who was 19 months older than me. She is in almost every childhood memory I can recall. We always shared a bedroom and most times a bed. We shared clothes and toys and sometimes friends and always secrets.

Catha Elaine in the yellow shirt, me in the background with the pink scarf....probably planning my next mischievious act. We were at Disneyworld in California, August, 1962.
Apparently, scarves were all the rage.

To say we were quite the opposite is not really describing us exactly but it's a good start. I was talkative, she only talked when necessary. I liked to take risk, she stood back and warned me not to. I talked back, she stayed quiet. I bossed her around, she submitted. She was a picky eater, I was not. She was the perfect child, I could imitate her. She had dark, thick hair, I had lighter, thin hair. I had blue eyes, she had brown. She wanted to take piano lessons, I had to take them also...with no desire whatsoever. I was extroverted, she was more introverted. In our preteens, she developed a chest......I am still waiting.

And as Bette Midler sings, she was "the wind beneath my wings."
The little princess to my little piggy....

We played school, restaurant, mamas and babies, house........we dug for mud to make mud pies, swang on the rusty, old swingset, walked up and down the neighborhood streets and shared clothes. We would talk in bed until one of us fell asleep each night. Catha was always there.

One time, we were playing outside and decided to slide down the next-door-neighbor's roof. They had the Swiss Chalet style exterior and a part of their roof was narrow and came down almost to the ground. It looked like a giant slide and while other kids slid down it, we were strictly forbidden to. But on this day, we just couldn't stand it any longer and crossed over to the bad side.

Of course, coming down in bare feet, I took the skin off my toes. All I remember is that I needed some medical attention.......mercuricome and a bandaid....but I couldn't exactly go in and tell me mama how it happened. So Catha and I stayed outside and put our thinking caps on to come up with the story of how this injury had taken place.

Well, imagine our surprise when our mother didn't believe that we were just standing on the sidewalk, behaving ourselves, when a little boy on a bike came by and ran over my toes. We were scolded for lying and misbehaving and put to bed early without supper. But Catha was in prison with really, it was bearable.

I hesitate to point this out, but we may have been a little nerdy. I was probably in 3rd grade and Catha in 5th grade and still playing with baby dolls. This was my favorite doll of all times and check out that awesome stroller. Catha got an infant seat. Santa was so good that year!

Cigarettes (white crayons) and jewelry.

Catha was there adding to the joy and comfort of my childhood.

But there were 3 times she is the one who made it bearable.

The first time was the move my family made from Midland, Texas, to Bryan/College Station, Texas, in 1964. It was the Christmas break of my first grade year. A new town, a new house, a new school wasn't so scary because I still shared a bedroom with Catha. Bearable.

The second time was the move my family made from Bryan, Texas, to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. I was in 9th grade when my father took a new job and Catha joined me in hollering and crying out to our father that he was "ruining our life!" She was a junior in highschool and we were both devasted that we were being torn from our school and friends. When we arrived in Mississippi, I had one friend. Catha. She made it bearable.

Walking down a pier in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, 1972, with the only person in town that I knew.

The third time was when my parents moved again my senior year....this time to Houston. I screamed, hollered and begged to stay until graduation and they relented. The day after highschool graduation I joined my parents and Catha in Houston, Texas. I had one friend. Catha.
Again, it would have been unbearable without her.

I hesitate to even say that anything made my childhood bearable....because it sounds like I had a horrible childhood. Quite the opposite. I had a happy childhood. But none of us get by without some very unbearable situations....intersections, if you will. And Catha is what got me through those.
Thank you Catha for being there. And thank you God, for sending me to this world 19 months after her to the same mama and daddy. Your presence is surely felt.


  1. Are you sure it was your toes that were injured by the boy on the bike ... I thought it was my toes and your story! Growing up with you was memorable ... you were my gift from God and still are. I love you ... and your blog. (This composition is focused and has great voice ... 4 ... commended performance!)


  2. Sooooooooo sweet. I really loved reading this!!! It is focused and does have great voice. rofl