My Sister, My Friend, My Built-in Sponsor.
The Middle, Neglected...Wants to Save the World Child…
I was at my daughter’s house about two months ago, watching her have a meltdown (something that happens often in my family!) I had stopped over there with her thirteen year old brother (my youngest son), and she just happened to be in the middle of another fight with her twenty one year old brother….OVER SOFTBALL!!!!
Nick (the twenty one year old) was not there to render his side of the story, so I was trying to make some kind sense out of what was going on. I won’t get into the details...mainly because they were silly, but at one point during the conversation I turned to her and said “What was it that made me think, Hey, it would be a great idea to have kids?”
Now, mind you, my thirteen year old is sitting there listening to all of this, and without a beat, my daughter replies “No kidding Mom, you should’ve just stopped after you had me!” A few seconds go by before it actually sets in with my son, then you hear him yell “HEY!” Everyone laughed and calmed down enough to have a rational conversation, AGAIN…ABOUT SOFTBALL!
The reason I brought that conversation up is because, even though I may have never uttered those words out loud (as my daughter did that day), there were plenty of times in my life when that very same thought crossed my mind about my own sibblings.
I am the oldest of three girls. I was always the defiant, sneaky, wild, outgoing, and chatty daughter. My youngest sister, by four years, (Michelle, aka Mich) was always the independent, self-sufficient, studious, and easy going daughter. Then there was Cheri…the middle child and three years younger than me.
From as far back as I can remember, I got the impression that Cheri should have been born to royalty. It wasn’t that she acted like a spoiled brat, nor did my parents treat her any differently, she just had this “everyone should take care of me” attitude as a child.
We couldn’t go anywhere without Cheri having to be carried. Luckily, for her, we grew up right next to an Air Force Base in Belgium, so the guys were always happy to help out my parents by carrying “The Little Princess” around. Mich and I just walked. It never bothered me, and I’m sure it never bothered Mich…it’s just one of those memories I have always carried around.
Cheri was always goofy! There were so many times in my life when I just stood there thinking “What is wrong her?” A perfect example was, one day when the Air Force dudes were watching us for my parents. They brought us over to a park in the quaint little town of Renaix, Belgium, where we lived at the time. All three of us were having a blast. The guys were just sitting on a bench watching us play, and a few geese wandered over to the playground.
They were getting a little too close for comfort, so Mich and I (without even thinking about it) climbed to the top of the slide. Then we sat up there watching Cheri run around, with the geese chasing her, screaming, crying, and waving her arms around like a crazy person. The Air Force dudes were trying to get at her, but they were laughing so hard at the time that it took a few minutes before they could rescue her. We all made it home safely...and in hysterics!
A few years later, when we were all attending a French school together, a couple of boys moved to town from Saudi Arabia. These boys were in my grade, and they absolutely despised me. They tried everything they could to hurt me, but I was a tough little cookie and they weren’t able to crack my shell. That is until they found Cheri! They never bothered Mich…they just went straight after Cheri.
We were at recess one day, when a couple of my friends yelled over “Come quickly, they have Cheri!” I ran as fast as could to the middle of the courtyard, where the two boys were holding my little sister up in the air by her feet. My first (and only) instinct was to haul off and punch the bigger of the two directly in the face, at which point he dropped Cheri on her head. She went unscathed that day, but a few days later, in retaliation for having gotten them in trouble, those same boys tripped my sister when she was walking down some brick steps and caused her to get stitches on the side of her eye.
As I stated, in an earlier hub, Cheri and I are both in Alcoholics Anonymous. We both started drinking at very young age. She started doing things in high school that I don’t think she would have done had she been sober…so did I!
One day she decided she was going to try her hand at stealing from the local drug store. All she took was a little package of “Thank You notes” with pretty flowers on them. I found the notes in the bedroom, and I’ve always been a doodler, so I started drawing little pictures on some of the notes.
So Cheri (DUH) felt compelled to run to my mother crying because I stole “HER” notes! Since I was, 99.99% of the time, the trouble maker in the family, my mom’s natural instinct was to start yelling at me. I just stood there looking at Cheri with this “Are you kidding me?” look on my face, and proceeded to tell mom where she got the notes in the first place. We were both grounded…AS USUAL!
Oh, and there was the time when I came home from school and ran up to our bedroom to change my clothes, so I could go hang out. I had nothing on by my underwear, when I heard this noise coming from the attic. I just grabbed the long raincoat I had worn that day, and ran up to my friend’s house. She and her brother walked back down to my house with me. We found Cheri and her best friend Pam having a vigil for Jim Morrison in the attic…LIT CANDLES AND ALL, and yes, there was insulation all around her..HELLO, anybody in there?
I have no intention of going into my sister’s drunk-a-log, she can do that quite well by herself, but while she was drinking she was quite a hazard to herself. I recall getting into a lot uncomfortable (that’s putting it mildly) predicaments while I was drinking, but I never did any physical damage to myself.
Cheri, without going into too many details, and just to name a few memorable ones, flipped over the handlebars of MY Schwinn bicycle (did a number on her face and my bike), fell face first down a slate covered hill (did a number on her face), dove head first into a rock in the Mohawk River (I slept with her that night to make sure she didn’t have a concussion from that egg sized bump on her head,) and there were many more “very minor” incidents.
She made it through high school alive, and became quite successful in the business world. That is how she met her first husband. I remember envying her so much on her wedding day. I was at the very end of my first marriage, and I was miserable. Cheri looked absolutely stunning and happy as could be. I had no idea at the time, that Cheri was just as scared and lost inside as I was.
The marriage lasted a few years, but shortly after it was over, so was her drinking. She hit her bottom well before I did. After she quit drinking my mother was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma (for the second time.) My parents were running their own business, so Cheri moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts to help my parents with both the business and taking care of my mom. That is also when she began racing vintage cars with my parents.
After my mom got better, Cheri spent some time working for the company in the Belgium office. She spent a couple of years over there, then moved back to New Hampshire and bought herself a beautiful condo on Lake Winnipesaukee. She wasn’t there very long before she met the man who would become her husband, at one of her races. He was unloading some of his very fancy cars out of his tractor trailer at the time.
This man whisked her away, just like in those romance novels, asked her to spend the winter with him in his beautiful house (on the water) in Florida. Then she rented out (and eventually sold) her condo, and moved in with him, into his other beautiful house on the Lake in New Hampshire.
Cheri never had any children (by choice) which was always a plus for me and my sister, because that meant we always had a readily available babysitter. Since I moved back to New Hampshire, in 2002, she has been a huge help for me and my children. She was very instrumental in my road to recovery, and she is always there when my kids need her.
We had my granddaughter’s 5th birthday party at Cheri’s house yesterday. Now, I was told that Ashlynn (my granddaughter wanted it to be a costume party.) I would have to disagree, I think it’s a tossup (between Ashlynn and Cheri), because if anyone outside of the family could have seen Cheri at that party yesterday, they would’ve seen the biggest child of them all!
Whether it be birthday parties, shopping, going out to eat, or (God forbid the children try to interrupt this) playing Rock Bank or American Idol on the Wii with Cheri, you can be sure that you are going to have a carefree, childlike experience.
She is a forty three year old woman, with a twelve year old girl’s appreciation for life , anyone who knows her loves her…and I thank God that I did not actually wish her away all of those years ago!