I have several sisters. I’m not talking about our best girlfriends who we think of as ‘sisters’. Because I don’t have any of those.
I’m talking about family.
I have :
- one real, full sister (same mum and dad).
- one half-sister (same mum, different dad).
- another half-sister (same dad, different mum).
- one ex-step-sister (from my mum’s second husband’s first marriage). She’s only ‘ex’ because my mum is no longer married to her second husband.
- one ex-step-sister (from my dad’s second wife’s first marriage). She’s also ‘ex’ because my dad is no longer married to his second wife.
Got all that?
I have a favourite sister. I think she knows who she is.
My favourite sister
We haven’t always had a good relationship, me and my favourite sister. There were times when we didn’t speak to each other for years. Whether the reasons were valid or not isn’t important. I guess we needed some time away from each other to grow, to make our own mistakes without interference from each other.
We live on different sides of the world now, but when I go to Australia and spend time with her, it’s like we haven’t been apart. We drink wine together and laugh, and cry (that’s mostly me), and tell stories and reminisce about the past and talk about the present and dream about the future.
All the things that sisters do.
We’re really good friends.
However when we were little, it was a different story. Let me tell you about some of the times she traumatised me.
She told me many, many times, that I was adopted. The earliest memory of this was when I was 9 or 10 years old, but it could have started before that.
You see, I had red hair when I was little. Orange, in fact. Our mum had brown hair, our dad had brown/black hair, my favourite sister had brown hair, our brother had blond/brown hair.
And I had orange hair.
Of course I was adopted.
She told me so often that I started to believe it. I mean, I had orange hair and nobody else in the family had orange hair. My grandparents didn’t have orange hair. My cousins didn’t have orange hair. No aunts or uncles had orange hair. Only me. Therefore, there was only one explanation for it.
I was adopted.
Was I adopted?
But I told her that I didn’t believe her. I asked our mum about it and asked her to show me my birth certificate. She did.
My favourite sister told me that my birth certificate was a fake. That our parents made a fake birth certificate for me so that I wouldn’t know that I was adopted. I didn’t want to, but I believed her.
I was adopted.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being adopted, I understand that now. But 40 years ago I was a kid, and it was a bit different then. Adoption wasn’t as out in the open as it is now. We didn’t have Madonna and Angelina back then. Adoption was a secret and nobody talked about it.
I was adopted.
My favourite sister.
By the time I was 9 years old, I had already changed schools twice. It was quite a traumatic day for me when I arrived at the 3rd school. It was not only the 3rd school I’d been to ever, it was the 3rd school I’d been to that school year. I remember crying in the principal’s office when our mum was enrolling me.
Let’s go back in time a little bit.
When I was quite small, my siblings created a nickname for me. My memory is a bit hazy, but as I recall, one day my aunt called me a pretzel (I don’t know why), and my siblings (one or more of them, I can’t remember), said that I wasn’t a pretzel, I was a cheezel.
From that time on most of my family called me ‘Cheezel’.
When I started at my 3rd school, when I was 9, I didn’t want any of my new friends to know that I had a nickname. I just wanted to be Cheryl. Not Cheezel. Please.
My favourite sister and I went to the same new school. I asked her not to tell my new friends that I was called Cheezel.
She didn’t tell my new friends. She told her new friends.
Who told my new friends.
Who laughed at me and called me Cheezel.
Our mum used to sew a lot. She used to make curtains for the house, and clothes for us, and other things. One day, she bought some material. It was brown with orange and yellow flowers. Yes, it was the 70s. I guess the material was cheap because she bought enough to make not only a tablecloth, but also a skirt. For me.
My favourite sister told everyone who would listen (ie. my school friends) that our mum made my skirt out of a table cloth.
Cheryl’s wearing a tablecloth.
When I was 9 we lived for a few months in a country town in the south west of Western Australia. We had a big backyard, and at the end of our backyard was native bush. Trees and shrubs and wildlife. I don’t know who owned the land but it was like a playground for us. We often used to play there.
One day, we had extended family visiting. Family including several kids (mostly cousins). All the adults were in the house and they told us kid to go and play outside. As usual.
There was a tall pine tree in the bush behind our back yard. My favourite sister climbed it right to the top. All the other kids were standing around it watching her. Admiring her. How good she is at climbing tall trees.
So far so good.
Then she shouted at me. Cheezel, help! She was stuck up the tree. She couldn’t get down. Could I go and get the grownups to come and help her? Hurry! She was scared. Please. Hurry!
I ran to the house get the grownups.
The grownups and me all hurried back to the tall pine tree.
There was nobody there. My favourite sister had gone. All the other kids had gone. There was nobody stuck up the tree. Gone.
Cheezel – the orange-headed loser.
Do you have a favourite sister? Let me know all about her in your comments below.