Unfortunately, a little sister was the last thing that my thirteen year Only Bro wanted “from Santa”. My arrival changed things considerably; I didn’t score any points arriving on Christmas Eve. Mom had to stay in the hospital; this meant that my fifteen-year-old Big Sis was nominated to cook the turkey for Daddy and Only Bro. I never stopped hearing him describe how my arrival ruined a perfectly good holiday dinner that year!
Not to worry. Big Sis loved having a real, live baby doll in the house! Photos are plentiful and tell enough of a story to assure me that at least one of my older siblings was happy to have me around. To Mom’s dismay, Big Sis spent a good portion of her earnings on very expensive sun suits, tricycles, dressy outfits, and assorted items; all meant for me. When I was old enough to walk, she took me to neighborhood Easter egg hunts, to Sunday Mass (here was an underlying plan in action; she could watch the boys while using me as a handy decoy), and she even fashioned costumes and applied my makeup for my first few Halloweens. No doubt about it; except for the weekly decoy stints, I was treated like a princess. I absolutely adored my Big Sis!
My older brother did his best to get on with life in the house as it now unfolded, cloth diapers included. I have two photos of his holding me as a toddler. In either pose he didn’t look too thrilled, but I’m smiling in both, so from all appearances he was slowly assimilating to the “new” baby. And not a moment too soon, as another baby sister followed two years later. The men in the house were indeed outnumbered.
It wasn’t long before Big Sis was to marry and move away. I was now four and old enough to understand that away meant out of the house. I knew just who to blame, too! So, I followed the romantic couple out the back door one afternoon and, from the porch, I threw my prized jack in the box right at “Him”. The toy hit “Him” smack in the back of the head! There are no photos for reference; I just remember running…
Over the next few years, trips to Sacramento to visit Big Sis and “Him” were fairly routine. I missed her terribly, so each trip was always something to look forward to. They lived in a small rental in the country, on property with large fruit trees and a chicken coop. Inside, the walls were wrapped in feathered wallpaper. I don’t remember all the rooms, but in the kitchen stood a wringer washing machine that came with the rental. If we were lucky, she’d start a load of wash, and we’d watch its shaking and moving from one side of the very uneven kitchen floor to the opposite end of the room. Fully relocated, the washing cycle was then complete! Not everyone’s Big Sis had a traveling washer.
When in season, one or two large crates of pomegranates filled the back of our station wagon for the trip back home. Before we could eat them, Mom would make us change into our play clothes and sit outside on our front porch, so we didn’t stain anything important. We sat on the top step, carefully peeling back the creamy membrane of the fruit to discover all the tiny, plump, juicy seeds. Pomegranates were a favorite of ours; they kept us busy and happy; we didn’t mind the mess one little bit, and Big Sis didn’t seem so far away.