Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Memories of my Sister

             On October 1st it will be exactly a year since I lost my beloved sister to the Cancer that she fought against so bravely and so long. I am the eldest of 5 children so I still have 2 lovely sisters and a super brother , but Gillian was only two years younger than me and  we shared so much and we were very close.    
             Of course, growing up, we went through the usual rivalries and disputes that all siblings do. I was often jealous of her, she was blonde and blue-eyed, as were my other siblings. I was a black haired, green-eyed, serious faced little scrap. A cuckoo in a nest of peacocks !    As we grew older the differences between us became more apparent . I was quiet and loved reading , Gillian was noisy and loved to disrupt things . I was femine and liked dolls and ribbons in my hair, Gillian was a tomboy and pulled my curls and made me cry. She would seek me out as I played tea parties with my dolls and kick the leaf  "plates" with their gravel "food" and throw the poor dolls round the garden ! I hated her !   I couldnt understand why she was always so mean to me and when I complained to Mother I was told the same thing every time , " You are older than her so be tolerant . You should have more sense ,etc. etc. etc. " I was always expected to do well and so was never praised but Gillian and the others seemed to have all the encouragement and got away with  murder.                                                                                                             
            I managed an escape of sorts when I passed my 11+   and went to Grammar School, I had my own friends and  was away from the teasing etc. I had two blissful years and then Gillian joined me at  School, but by now I had hardened up and was no longer a pushover  . Gill, all nervous and new , came over to me in the Dining Room. She had a small group of  First Years with her and I suppose she was showing off a little . "Look" , she said , "This is my Sister ! I told you I had a Sister here !"  I am ashamed to say that I stood up , looked her up and down and then in my best Maggie Smith, haughty voice , said , " I have never seen this person before in my life!"    I then swept out of the room with my friends , feeling no guilt at hearing the laughter and unkind remarks poor Gill was subjected to.  For the next two years I never spoke to Gill at school and most people didnt even know she was my Sister  .            
             Then suddenly things changed .................We had an elderly Great Grandmother who lived with my Nana and Grandad (more of them in another blog)  Well Nana and Grandad were going away for a short break and didnt want to leave Gt Granny on her own but Gt Granny didnt want to come to our house so it was decided that Gill and I would go there and look after her . She didnt need much looking after as , though in her 80s she was very sprightly and well . It was more to check she didnt fall or something  .  I was about 16 and Gill about 14 by now and we were on our own with a partially deaf old lady and so we TALKED to each other.   We talked for hours and Gill told me how she had always envied me because I was so self-sufficient. she envied how I looked and dressed , my friends and my self confidence and brains ! This was all amazing to me . We talked about our younger days and how we played for hours in fields of long grass during those endless Summer holidays . Of impromtu picnics with jam sandwiches and bottles of water and no adults ! We talked of playing "sardines" and me falling asleep on the top shelf of the airing cupboard and not being able to be found , of apple "scrumping" and nipping over the allotment fences to pinch pea pods  and it suddenly dawned on us that we DIDNT hate each other . We had actually had fun together and what we felt were the usual jealousies and disagreements that many siblings feel .  The rest of the "Granny sitting" was marvellous . We took an afternoon off and went to the sea-side on the bus . We laughed and window shopped and ate ice cream and candy floss and "boy watched " and giggled and flirted a little and became best friends .                    
            During the following years  we  were often apart but we were always in contact supporting each other. we went out together and there was always a comforting shoulder to cry on or an encouraging ear in which to whisper secrets and when we got married we shared our marital ups and downs .  Gill was married 3 times while I had just the one husband , so she often needed supporting through some difficult times  ,but she always returned the support and love and she was my rock and kept my feet on the ground when I was in the middle of one of my "wild ideas".
           The day  she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer  I thought my world would end but my brave Sister fought it and suffered the indignity of the chemo and the hair loss and the sickness . She beat it that time and was clear for five years but, Cancer is a BASTARD and no respecter of bravery !   A routine check showed that it had returned and this time was so wide spread that all we could do was wait . She had marvellous care and as much treatment as could be given but eventually I lost my dear , shining  girl..
          When we were very young we lived on our Grand parents farm . It was a Dairy farm but we also had chickens and ducks and pigs for the table. We spent idyllic days around the farm , this was way back in the early 50s , a much safer time for children to wander free. My Grandad   had a mean old sow , she was known  for being the most bad tempered, vicious sow in Yorkshire. she had broken a mans leg, or so the story goes ! Anyway, one day this old sow got out of her pen , I dont know how , I was only 5 and Gill was 3 at the time. The farm hands were alerted and  Mum came out to round us up and take us indoors till the danger was past. Well , there I was, goody two shoes, playing with my dolls by the cow byre but there was no sign of Gill. The grownups hunted far and wide, checking hay lofts and chicken runs and everywhere a 3yr old might possibly wander. Panic was setting in as the old sow was still "on the run "too. My Grandad, in desperation began to walk down the lane to the phone box  to call the local "bobby" when there , in the distance , he saw Gill walking back towards the farm with a large stick in her hand   and there in front of her was the old , mean sow , trotting along like a puppy. Apparently everyone held  their breath while Gill drove the sow down the lane, into the farmyard and into the pen !  .........................My beloved , brave Sister                                                                                  


  1. A lovely, moving post. Wonderful to have those memories, but a sad anniversary for you.xxx

  2. Oh wow, where's the hankies! How beautiful, sad, but humorous all at the same time. Wonderful insight into a special memory. x

  3. Beautiful memories written in a lovely way ready touch me regards jeangeie

  4. What beautiful beautiful memories, Rosalie! I'm the elder of two children and feel […I got up to here at about 18:00 and the page has been open ever since!…] or, rather, sympathise with the notion of younger siblings getting away with murder. Despite the tears and jealousies, your childhood sounds quite idyllic. In fact, your blog posts generally would probably make a wonderful novel, set of short stories or poems, I think.

  5. What a beautiful, sad yet loving story you tell Rosalie. Had a wee sniff, obviously, but also lots of smiles seeing the picture you painted of your relationship with your sister.
    I look forward to reading about the other family members you hinted at

  6. What a beautiful story Rosalie, my sister Gillian is 5yrs younger than I am, being the youngest of 3 she was let away with blue murder, I'm the eldest and always hated how much freedom etc she got compared to me! Lol
    Nowadays, we are best friends!