I think every family has that one child who is ‘different’ from the others. I believe this is, to some degree, determined by a little something I like to refer to as, ‘The Mommy’s Curse.” You know the one. It’s that phrase used by moms in that moment of extreme frustration when they say, “I hope you have a kid just like you!” It’s said in anger when she can’t think of anything worse than us having to put up with what she has had to put up with. I firmly believe those words somehow have an impact on our DNA. My Mom had four of us. We have all heard “The Mommy’s Curse”.
We are a family of three girls and one boy. The boy is the youngest and, yes, we tortured him until he outgrew us, but this isn’t about him. This is about our middle sister, our ‘other’ sister. Our one, our only, Neanie.
She was born Jeannine Sicurello. I’m not sure what Mom was thinking when she had her first two children, but she gave us names that were longer than we were. Fortunately for the last two she mended her ways, naming them Lisa and Paul.
Jeannine is the second girl born three years after me. We are both born in October, she on the 9th and me on the 18th. From the time she could speak she decided that she was the oldest because her birthday came first. Of course, once we started ‘getting old’ she was happy to take her place as the second child, graciously allowing me to be the oldest.
She has conquered quite a lot in her 56 years. She was born with a ‘lazy eye’, giving her less than 5 feet of sight in that eye. This, of course, made learning challenging, but she can be very determined and overcame her difficulties of perception quite nicely. For a time, doctors thought putting a patch on her good eye would force her to use her bad eye more and make it stronger. All that did was frustrate her and make her cranky leading to us to giving her the endearing nickname, “Neanie-Amin”.
As years went by and some of us grew, we realized that when we lined up according to age, we were also lined up according to height…oldest to youngest, shortest to tallest. Somehow, that has changed. Though I am only 5’2″, Nean, once a statuesque 5’4″, is now half-an-inch shorter than me. We asked Nean how this happened. She told us she’s an old lady. She may be right.
She’s very definite about certain things. For instance, she always calls her ‘purse’ a ‘pocketbook’. She never carries a purse with a shoulder strap like most women. She always carries a ‘pocketbook’ with two handles. Add this to the fact that she walks slightly hunched over, holding her ‘pocketbook’ in front of her with both hands and you have all of the makings of a little old lady. She is 56. She doesn’t care.
Like a lot of little old ladies, she loves schedules. She has a schedule for reading her bible, a schedule for cleaning, a schedule for working, a schedule for watching her shows, a schedule for showers, and a even a schedule for brushing her teeth. She loves her schedules.
When the rest of the family slowly migrated south, Nean remained in the frozen north of Montague, NJ with her family. When my parents were deciding what they wanted for their 60th Wedding Anniversary, they both decided they wanted to see Nean. And so, for the past five days Nean and her youngest daughter, Melody have been down for a visit. When she was preparing to come down she told me she was bringing capris and tee shirts. I told her it can get cold in Florida in January. She didn’t believe me. Yesterday she asked me if she could borrow a pair of sweatpants because she’s freezing. I gave her a pair. After wearing them for an hour she informed me that she was keeping them. Always wanting to be fair, she gave me $6 for them. I told her I paid $10, but she told me they were used, I’d worn them twice, so it was like a consignment. I kept the $6.
There are things about my sister that I truly appreciate. She doesn’t care what people think and dresses as she pleases. Aside from my father, I’d have to say Nean is the most contented person I know, never wanting more and always very happy with whatever she has. She’s also very smart. Those words of frustration and affliction that Mom bestowed on us came true. Each one of us has at least one kid that is just like us. But Nean was special, Mom wished that she would get six kids just like her. Nean, smarter than the rest of us, stopped at two.
Family is what grounds us. Sisters and brothers, regardless of personalities and idiosyncrasies, are the cords that hold us together. Both are a very big deal.