It was my sister’s birthday Sunday. She is two years younger than I am, which makes her now 22.
Karen is as she has been since birth, a slender, dark-eyed, and mischievous female with wit and style.
In honor of Ka-wen’s birthday, a little story.
Come sit over here by me.
We have always been a family of note-writers. It would not be unusual to go to my parents’ house only to find, on your drive home, a note in your purse: The Rooster Crows at Midnight, or You Remind The Guy Behind You in Traffic of his Ex-Wife…
I myself prefer to mail them coupons for over-the-counter gas-relief tablets or home pregnancy tests, but to each his own.
One of the very first notes I got from Karen was when I was nine.
I was excited to go to Girl Scout Camp. But I was also extremely nervous and foresaw, as much as a third-grader can, great home-sickness.
We’d only been in this particular town for less than a year; so while I had made a number of friends, those friends had friends they’d known since being in utero. Everyone in those small towns knew everyone’s mom, where they shopped, what time they got home from work, whether or not they liked mushrooms.
Small towns can be lonely places.
And so it was that I packed my uniform and my Girl Scout handbook and pointed my fresh, freckled face toward the school bus that would take us to camp.
An hour or so into the ride, the bus divided into groups of whispering, sharp-eyed girls. My lousy 10 months of residence in this town was not enough to stand up against the life-long knowledge these girls had of each other. I began to try to think of ways to trick the bus driver into turning around. Our dog had epilepsy – could I fake a seizure?
In an effort to fight the rising lump in my throat and hide the face that I knew would betray my feelings, I began to dig through my belongings.
Near the bottom of my bag was a piece of paper folded as small as physically possible. In seven-year-old script – and with a seven-year-old’s spelling – was a note from Karen.
Dear Pearlie Girlie Tree Seed Wirly,
Do you like me? Yes or no. Circel one. And don’t forget where you live while your gone. Hopefly Mom and Dad dont forget who you are but if they do can I have your bed? Ha ha no rilly. OK then dont forget not to pick your nose in publick. Its not like your at home or somthing. Ha ha no rilly.
Love, Karen, your sister who Mom rilly does like beter.
And I started to laugh. What a little freak.
The note made all the difference. All those girls might have had each other, but I had Karen, my tiny little secret weapon.
Happy Birthday, Ka-wen.
Terms of Endearment
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