My sister and I are just 26 months apart. Our sweet Momma made most of our clothes and loved to dress us alike, as you can see… Here we are the Sailor Girls. Cathy and I have sailed life, through rough seas and smooth sailing, but always and forever- she is my anchor. We don’t look alike, her eyes are velvet brown, mine are a funny shade of green. She has always had better hair but I don’t begrudge her for it. She is right handed and I write with my left hand. As you can tell, she has always had better taste in clothes- I wanted to wear red socks with my sailor outfit- she chose the classic white. She was my first and best teacher. She taught me how to read and write at age four- when she was just six years old! I don’t guess it’s that big of a deal these days, back then it was. I loved reading her first grade Dick and Jane books. I will always be thankful for the gift she gave me- I still love to read and write! Not only did she teach me the fundamentals but she also taught me how tie a tiny thread around a junebug’s leg and let it spin round and round our heads. Even better Cathy taught me how to pinch the lit ends off of lightening bugs and stick them around my wrists for All-Natural- Glow in the Dark Bracelets. We didn’t murder all of them, some were tiny nightlights in a jar between the twin beds we shared. Sometimes we pushed our beds together and pretended it was a boxing ring. She has such a great imagination- ‘Over on that side of the ring is the bantam weight boxer (me) and on this side of the ring is the heavyweight champion of the world!'(her) and the boxing would commence. She retained her championship. Though I must say, I did a better Elvis impression than she did; or at least I think I did. Cathy tried it once at school- she was appointed to take names while the teacher had to slip out of the room– she got up on top of the teacher’s desk- so she could maintain control of the class and entertained the group with her rendition of Elvis- the teacher was not amused. She was always generous in letting me go first at the doctor’s office, while she was busy tying her sash in a dozen knots so our Momma had to apologize as she untied all of those knots making our visits a bit longer. In our childhood, folks fresh from World War II were worried about infectious diseases like polio- the two of us lined up to take the Salk vaccine on sugar cubes, I gagged and she savored hers; and there was also the satellite Sputnik, so concerned neighbors watched for the blinking light to streak across the sky at night- while sitting in lawn chairs, and listened to Huntley/Brinkley. Our neighbor wore a white hardhat with the emblem for Civil Defense emblazoned on the front of it. A few built bomb shelters. Once we toured a bomb shelter, it was like a small buried submarine in the front yard of a neighbor’s house- we walked around looking at cans of potted meat and Vienna sausages – I had a weak stomach and tended toward timid- Cathy took my hand and whispered- ‘Let’s get out of here.’ I will always love her for that and the many other times she rescued me. She teaches me bravery to this day.
We were at our aunt’s house in this picture, look at those doodads on the mantel! I’m pretty sure we played ‘Swing the Statue’ with our cousins- Cathy turned it into ‘Sling the Statue as Hard as You Can’ when one of them swung me too hard and knocked my breath out. My Sailor girl sister is still one of the funniest people I have ever known. She has the award to prove it- being elected ‘Wittiest’ by her peers in high school. She retains her title to this very day. Together we have perfected the art of inappropriate laughter. I am a storyteller, she is the mimic, the master of the outrageous line, the bestowing of the perfect nicknames, the facial expressions, the spice of life. And yet, she is the artistic one- she has a flair, a knack, an eye– for design, for style, for life. Cathy is my North Star for the art of living the good life. My first and best cheerleader- except the time- I cracked her up, desperately trying to learn a poem in the fifth grade about Nancy Hanks coming back as a ghost; my serious rendition of the last line, as the ghostly mother of Abraham Lincoln, who wondered- ‘Did he get on?‘ -Cathy thought it was hysterical. I was at the point of tears over the sad refrain. She rolled laughing until she cried too.
Cathy loves to work, while I have my nose in a book- she can completely clean out her closet. I still love getting her hand me downs. It makes my day for the phone to ring and hear Cathy say- ‘Hey Doll…how’s my sweet sis?’ Before I know it, we’re sailing away on some bizarre interesting voyage to an insanely funny place. Thanks for drifting along with me as I’ve shared the Sailor Girls with you. Wherever she is, you can be sure she’s working hard and making the world a brighter place. Now, you know you’ll hear about her again; just wanted to introduce you to my sister, one of the Sailor Girls– the cute one on the left. This Sailor Girl’s life is richer because of my sister, Cathy.
Love y’all, Camellia
*This is one of my favorite photographs of the two of us!