Friday, March 6, 2009

Patsy - Part 2

Photo: Here's my only closeup of the 3 of us. The year was about 1950. Left to right: Niki, Patsy & Lauren.
Now, back to my story...
I was about 8 or 9 when things finally came to a head. I had been tattling like crazy for some time, and Patsy was getting fed up with my interference in her life, ESPECIALLY with the porcelain horses that kept came up crippled! So one day, I found a note on my bed. It said, "Meet me behind the church at 9 - alone - OR ELSE!" Now the church was a little brick Protestant church next door to our house. We used to bang tennis balls off its backside, where there were no windows, and it was very dark on that side of the building at night....spooky & DARK! But I knew that I could show no fear, & putting on a show of bravado was the thing to do. So I went, alone...

Patsy had a best friend, Karen, who was always with her in those days. When I arrived at the meeting place, I was not surprised to see that there were 3 there to meet me - Patsy, Karen, and Chips. Patsy quickly took her place as the leader, telling me that she was tired of me ratting on her, and that I'd better quit if I knew what was best for me. I countered with something brave but completely lame, like, "Oh yeah?!?"

Honestly, I don't remember exactly what was said, until Patsy challenged me with this: "If you don't quit ratting on me, I'll sic Chips on you." To that, I said, "Oh yeah? Chips would never hurt me!" She replied, "Oh yeah? He would if I told him to!" Of course, having far more blarney than brains, I blurted, "Oh yeah?!? - well Chips loves me - he'd NEVER hurt me!!"

That was it! Next thing I knew, Karen had me held tightly from behind, and Patsy was yelling at Chips - "Get her, boy - Chips - sic 'er! Get her, boy!!"

It was over before it began - Chips went from being MY dog, loving me & knowing me - to a rabid attack dog, growling me, circling me, snarling & barking, ready for the kill! It happended in a nano-second, & I was beaten. I gave up, sobbing & shaken, and Patsy was the victor.

She and Karen took me out to the front of the church, where there was a large black metal sign with the church's information on it. The back of the sign, where the black paint scratched off easily, suited their purpose well. They had already made their marks - the letters "P" + "K" and an = sign. There, I was made to make an "X", so that the message read: "P + K = X". I was instructed that (on pain of death) I would never disclose what had happened, and that if I ever did, I would pay with my life (or worse)!!

Things settled down after that, but a short time later, Patsy invited me to go with her to see the "fort" she & Karen had made. That was a high honor indeed, and I accepted on the spot! But they insisted that I could only go if I was blindfolded, so that I wouldn't be able to find their fort again after this visit, or tell anyone else how to find it. (There was a gang of older boys in our neighborhood, feared by all, even Patsy, who were known to destroy any "foreign" forts they came across!)

Patsy & Karen led me through the woods, along paths and through thickets, until they removed my blindfold for a rest. We were in a lovely little spot that looked like a fairy glen. The sun slanted prettily through the trees, and there were several little hills covered with soft green moss. I was just relaxing, enjoying the place, when Patsy announced that we would not go any further until I kissed the moss on the little hills! Now I LIKED the place; I even LOVED the spot. But I didn't know what kind of bugs lived down inside the moss on the hills, and had no desire to KISS anything there! But that was the only way I could go on - so I dutifully knelt down & kissed (yuck) the moss.

Meanwhile, my anger was kindled at this humiliation, & I determined, deep inside, that I would SOMEHOW find my way back to this spot, & on to their fort! From that point onward, I made mental notes of our progress....a big rock, then a left, crossing a stone wall, a small stream, etc. Finally, we made it to their fort. They removed my blindfold & I saw that it was indeed a real neat place - they had made a stockade-type of fence, and there was a thatched roof fort, complete with a "lookout tree" that had cut branch steps nailed to it to make climbing to the lookout platform was an ideal fort, & had taken a lot of work to make! In spite of myself, I admired their handiwork. Blindfolded once again, I was led home. But I did remember...

Sure enough, a week or so later, I retraced my steps with the help of my best friend, Susie D. We found the fort again, and with her help, I destroyed every piece of it! We demolished the fort, scattered the pieces far and wide, took their food & provisions they had inside, and even tore down the steps & platform of the lookout tree. When we finished, it was levelled, & there was hardly a sign that there had ever been a fort there. Then (in true Indian fashion) we wiped out our footprints & left as quietly as we had arrived. A few days later, I heard Patsy talking to Karen about the destruction. Apparently, she never thought that I would be capeable of such a monumental feat. It gave me great satisfaction to hear her telling Karen about how "the boys" must have been behind the destruction of their fort, because it was done so thoroughly (I've rarely felt such a rush of pure pride in any personal accomplishment since)!

After that, our relationship became more tolerable and Patsy's dislike of me was less pronounced, though it was still there. High school began for her, and I continued through the elementary grades.

Oddly enough, Patsy's hatred of me did not fade away, but it quit in an instant. Many years later, she told me how it happened. She was in her junior year in high school, and one afternoon she was outside when I got home from school. She said that as she looked down the street at me getting off the bus, her hatred of me just "fell off" and she realized that she didn't hate me any more at all! That was all there was to it - she never said anything until years later, but after that day she felt differently.

For me, there was no defining "moment" when our relationship was healed. But I do remember noticing a change in Patsy. It was subtle, but real, and slowly we began to talk to each other as real sisters, and eventually as friends, and later as very close, loving sisters. She married young & moved to a small town. I have many fond memories of weekends spent at her house, and when her children came, I was able to stay for a week or two to help out.

Our relationship today is still very close. You would never know that we were once such fierce adversaries. Life is strange sometimes, and I'll never completely understand why there was such animosity between us when we were young. Most important, I think, is that now, as all 5 of us qualify as "senior citizens," we value each other more than ever. We know that each day that all 5 of us still walk the planet is a GOOD day, and each time we get together for any reason is another blessing. We try to make the most of any such time.

Patsy - I love you so much - you are the BEST! We have overcome much together, and still (Lord willin') have more time to spend together.


Here are a couple of pictures of Patsy at about the age where she "lost" her dislike, plus one a few years later, just to show off how pretty she was (still is!!).

"Whatever you do they will love you; even if they don't love you they are connected to you till you die. You can be boring and tedious with sisters, whereas you have to put on a good face with friends." ~Deborah Moggach

No comments:

Post a Comment