Thursday, March 5, 2009

Me 'n Patsy

Patsy is my "big" sister, & we love each other as much as or more than any sisters ever did. But that was not always the case. When we were small, Patsy hated me. I knew it & she knew it - Mom & Dad knew it, & probably the rest of the family did too. The only thing we never really knew was, why?

Mom said it was because a miscarriage occured between Patsy & me. The children were evenly spaced out at every 2 years, except for the 4 year gap between the two of us. Mom always said that Patsy was used to being the "baby" of the family & resented me for usurping that role. Maybe so, maybe no. The fact remained, she was vehemently opposed to me from our earliest years, and the ill will persisted most of way through our childhood.

I remember that she would refrain from using my name, preferring to call me "it" most of the time. If we were both going through a tight spot, like a doorway, she would turn to the side & back up against the side, so as not to touch me. Our younger sister was accepted, and Patsy would play with her, but never with me.

Curiously, I don't recall returning her hate when I was little. I didn't even feel too bad about being so intensely disliked, that I remember. It was just the way things were. She never hit me or physically attacked me - I think she just really wanted to avoid any contact, as if she wished I wasn't there.

Patsy loved animals. Of course, all of us also loved animals and we had our share of family pets, especially dogs & parakeets. But it was Patsy who had a special way with critters, and we all recognized that animals bonded & responded to her more eagerly than to the rest of us.

Our most beloved dog was a collie named "Chips." He was a beautiful dog, and closely resembled the famous TV & movie collie, "Lassie." Chips was Patsy's dog. I mean, he was the family dog, & loved us all in his own way. But when Patsy was around, his focus was on her. One day, when I was about 8, that fact was proven to me. Patsy issued this challenge, "He's MY dog & will come to ME. He isn't YOUR dog." "Oh yeah?," I countered. "He's NOT your dog - he's MY dog!" "OK," she said, "We'll see. You take this treat & go to that corner; I'll go to the opposite corner with the same size treat & we'll both call him. We'll see whose dog he is then!" The sad thing was, always the optimist, I really was hoping he'd come to me, but of course, I lost.

As we got older, things stayed pretty much the same from day to day, but I gradually began to feel angry with her. I started fighting back in my own way. I learned that there were many ways that I could exact my revenge - quiet, effective ways...

Patsy was crazy about horses, above all other animals. She had a collection of beautiful china horses which she prized above everything else she owned. They were kept on the bookshelves in her room. Patsy had a room of her own, being the eldest girl, while we two younger ones shared a bedroom.

I used to wait until Patsy was away, then I'd go into her room, just to look (uh huh) around. I thought it was really neat that she had a bedroom of her own, and I really admired those horses! I'd look at them, thinking how pretty they were. Then I'd carefully pick one up, turning it around, marvelling at how delicate it was. I'd take hold of one slender leg & apply just the slightest bit of pressure, thinking, "Wow! It's SO delicate! But I bet it's stronger than it looks. I'm sure it would take quite a bit of - [SNAP] - Oh no! It broke!" It never ceased to amaze me that those little tiny legs couldn't stand up to a little bending!

I'd carefully & oh, so gently place the broken leg under the horse so that it appeared to be complete, & when it was balanced just so, you'd never know it was broken. That is, until you went to pick it up & the leg fell over. Looking back, I realize that I always picked a weight-bearing leg to test. Then I'd beat it back to my own room or somewhere else where I was safe. When Patsy came home, I'd hover near enough to be able to tell that she had picked up the latest crippled horse. She had no problem saying my name then - I'd hear her yell it quite clearly then - "NIKIIIII!" That scene was replayed many times over.

I also became a tattler of major proportions. It was especially effective to "rat" on Patsy to Nana, because I knew that she would probably not bother Mom with reporting the offense, but would just give Patsy "that look" that said, "I know what you did." And she would likely add more chores to Patsy's load while lightening mine a bit. Of course, she would know that I ratted on her, but would be unable to prove it or do much about it, I thought.

But one day I was paid back, and I believe that event was the beginning of the turn-around in our relationship, though it took years to come full circle...

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