I can imagine that I might not be remembering this exactly as it went down, but here is what I recall. For four years in my early life I lived with my Mom and Dad in Tallahassee, while my Dad completed his PhD at Florida State. I remember lots of good things from our time there. I remember that we had good friends, lived on a fun street with lots of kids to play with and knew our neighbors well. I remember learning to ride my bike in the front yard of our house on Evergreen Street and I remember spending the night with the kids up the street on the left and I remember my fifth birthday party at the pony place and that my kindergarten teacher came! I remember when a bunch of our loved ones came all at one time in a camper and I remember once when my Dad came home from FSU with a goat to spend the night! I remember dress up parties with great wigs that my grandmother got me and the blue metal swing set in our back yard. I remember when my beagle Sunshine got hit by a car two different times, and I remember when Sunshine died the second time. And I remember my new dogs, Sam and Buffy.
Sam and Buffy were miniature dachshunds, one really black and one a bit more brown. They were awesome, and I think I remember one day when they won ribbons for something or maybe I just remember seeing a photo of them with ribbons on. I'm not sure. I loved Sam and Buffy, and life was good. I remember that. I do not remember that my parents were desperately trying to bring another baby into the world and that my Mom miscarried over and over and over. And I remember riding bikes with my friends, laughing and singing "We All Live in a Yellow Submarine." I remember sitting in the kitchen, where our television was, and watching the first walk on the moon, and I hope I thought that was amazing.
And then I remember that we were going to move way up north to Illinois and there would be snow and it would be a grand adventure and it was exciting! I remember that we sold my blue metal swing set at a garage sale and that I got to keep the money. I remember that we got a super cool huge bright blue Ford station wagon that was really far out. And, I remember (I'm sure that I do) that my Mom said that Illinois was too cold for dogs, that people there didn't have pets. Upon becoming a mother myself I have wondered a time or two whether that was the exact statement - no dogs in Illinois! - or if my memory was an oversimplification. No, no way, I remember, "Illinois was just going to be too cold for Sam and Buffy." They couldn't go.
I must admit here that I don't recall a deep long sadness prevailing over my life as we left them, but I do know for a fact that I recalled that horrid statement to my mother each and every time we saw a dog of any description in our new land! There were dogs there; REALLY. My parents were freezing, but my friends' pets were not! And I loved the snow and my school and the lagoon where we could ice skate and the ice skating races where I did not prevail and my next door neighbor and the incredibly groovy babysitters from the college and our super cool house, rented from a professor on sabbatical. I loved my sparkly purple bike with the banana seat (if you are even half-way cool you understand the awesome-ness of such a vehicle) and the funny frozen plastic pool thing that we got in the backyard to "skate" on. I remember going skiing in Wisconsin and I remember the twins down the street and I remember getting to spend the night with our teenager friend in the dorm! Ahhhh.
But one thing was missing, for me and for my parents. There wasn't a little brother or sister to share all of that wonderfulness with; and though I did not know the pain that had weighed on my parents, I remember that I desperately wanted a sibling. I had the coolest canopy bed, but I did not have a sister. And then, creeping into my memories are the trips to somewhere an hour or two away to begin to talk about changing that. I remember that my folks went to meetings about it and then I remember one of the coolest days in history. I remember dressing up and going to meet Jodi. I remember that we went to a place where you get on horses and ride around in circles and I remember that Jodi had on a yellow dress and that she smiled all of the time. I think I smiled all of that day, too. And then we had to take her back to the place and then she came to stay with us for a weekend and then she was going to be MY SISTER! I remember that we brought her home, swerved the Ford station wagon into the garage, Jodi eyed the purple sparkly bike with the banana seat and exclaimed, "I'll take that one." And I don't remember being upset. Even though I did not know then that she would get that bike and lots of other new stuff and I would get a brand new red, white and blue bike with an even longer banana seat with stars on it; I was ecstatic. I assume that there were growing pains and aggravations between the two of us and territorial wars, but I don't remember those. I remember that MY SISTER smiled and giggled and that her hands waved wildly when she laughed and that we had fun. I know that we had a street-wide kids dress-up party to celebrate Jodi's arrival, and I assumed that to be the most normal of welcome home parties. I remember that Nana loved her freckles and that she was so funny and that we loved playing in the snow and that there was some serious craziness on the bunk bed in the spare room and that life was like it was supposed to be.
My sister celebrates her forty sixth birthday today. We discussed this morning that us being "that old" is unthinkable. What is even more unthinkable, though, is that there was ever a time that my sister was not MY SISTER. I thank God for her and for our laughs and for parents who were selfless enough to give me a sister that was five and a half when I was seven and for making sure we both had the most awesome banana seat bikes.