She Had to Be Tough

Me & ConnieWhen she was barely two years old, her older brother painted her red from head to toe with dry cherry Jell-O mix.  For a follow-up, he found a pair of scissors and gave most of her dolls crew cuts.

She was always drafted as co-pilot or co-conspirator whenever her brother wanted to create some fun.  This included one episode where the pair was spotted nearly becoming airborne while riding down the middle of a busy street in a radio flyer wagon.  Their mother’s good sheets and the neighbor’s broomsticks were purloined to create a sidewalk schooner just in time to catch the powerful Santa Anna winds.

She was tough enough to stand up to her brother and to have his back too if necessary.  They argued like siblings do, but none of the neighborhood kids could mess with either one of them without also having to deal with the other.  When a group of playground bullies jumped her brother and were in the process of making him part of the pavement, she came running and tore into them like a mad wolverine.

She was as tough as the boys, but expected to be treated, and respected, like a young lady should.  One young man tested the tenacity of her chivalrous expectations and paid dearly for his lapse in judgment.  His inappropriate comments and advances caused his head to become the target of a skateboard while going through the lunch line in the school cafeteria.  After school, she returned the borrowed skateboard to her brother, and he let her keep his flannel shirt as a reward for her stand.

She likes to fish.  Once, while on a cross country vacation, her brother fell into a river while trying to free a snagged fishing line.  Sister to the rescue; she ran down the river bank and helped pull him to safety.  This was par for the course though.  As tough as she had to be, she is also always the one trying to maintain the peace and keep the family intact.  She’s the one who kept track of her father after the divorce.  She even located and established contact with half brothers and sisters.  It’s fitting that the job she’s been doing the longest involves being “mom”, teacher and protector to everyone else’s kids.

Despite having a less than “fairytale” life, she seems to have fought her way to her “happily ever after”.  She’s like the poster girl for that Chumbawamba song where they sing “I get knocked down, but I get up again – You’re never gonna keep me down.”  This tough gal is my little sister and I probably would’ve been far worse off and worse for the wear on many occasions if she hadn’t come to my rescue.  Much of our young lives, we had a very small circle – our Mom, our Grammy and each other.  We were always moving – four elementary schools, two junior highs and two high schools.  The most stable constant in our lives was each other.  I guess it’s fitting that I made you a cake for your 8th birthday from the cement I “borrowed” from the construction site next door huh Sis?  We should’ve had rocky road ice cream with it!  Happy birthday Connie!

© 2015 Curt Savage Media

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