Sister Sally and Brother Chuck

A very chilly 8 degrees frozen solid here today. Unusual for us. But then, even Tucson got a hard freeze.

Arctic air, paying us a visit. Just a little reminder that it can.

Besides, it’s sunny and clear. Already the solar energy is warming the house.

I’m an only child, if you didn’t know. My mom didn’t really plan it that way. In fact, I’m sure she would have loved to have more children. But it took five years of trying for her to get pregnant with me and then my dad died when I was three. She was a widow for four years and, when she remarried, my stepfather didn’t want more children.

(In many ways, he didn’t really want even me, but he loved my mother and we were a package deal. Don’t be sad – things got much better once I was an adult.)

At any rate, as a wildly imaginative kid who often played by herself, I enjoyed the company of many imaginary friends. One was a ghost I called Casper, along with a little girl in a red dress named Jill. I remember seeing them quite clearly. They were vividly present to me. Sometimes I wonder if imaginary friends aren’t some kind of non-physical entities that small children have the non-busyness to talk to. Of course, there was also a magazine rack shaped like a cat that I remember told me stories when we lived at my grandparents after my dad died.

Fine lines, I suppose.

I never felt the lack of siblings, except that people were forever asking me if I minded not having them. People being grown-ups, of course. Other kids never asked me if I minded. In fact, they always said how lucky I was, usually when an older brother was tormenting them or a younger sib was being a pest. As I got older, nothing I saw in my friends’ families made me think I was really missing out on the sibling experience.

Except that people kept on about it. People even sometimes hinted that I might have psychological problems because of it.

So, at one point, I invented a little sister. I couldn’t see her as clearly, but she was short, bouncy, and had blond ringlets. I named her Sally. She was an ideal little sister because she was available to play or gaze at me in adoration, and also conveniently disappeared when I lost interest. She didn’t last very long, but I do think of her, from time to time.

I thought of her a little while back, when my mom’s friend, Jan, was dealing with her aging mother and all those awful decisions about nursing homes, etc. Jan, also an only child, said to my mom over drinks: “I keep wondering – where the hell is Chuck?” When my mom looked blank, Jan explained that Chuck was the brother she never had, the one who should be there to help her make those decisions.

My mom just got a new kitten. This sounds like not a big deal, but it is. Since her last cat died, over a year ago, she’s gone without. For pretty much the first time in her adult life, she hasn’t had a feline companion. So about a month ago, she finally went and got a rescue Main coon kitten.

And named her Sally.

It’s significant, I suppose, because my mom had to take into account that it’s possible Sally will outlive her. She asked me if I’d take her in, if it came to that. I said of course I would, though I don’t like to think about that.

Sally is a bit skittish yet, from her traumatic start, but we played with her all of Thanksgiving. She became the main entertainment. By the end of our four-day visit, she’d let me rub her ears. But David won her heart by teaching her that couch pillows make great tunnels.

So, now I do have a little sister named Sally. One who lives in the immediacy of the moment, who forgets her fears in the spirit of play.

A lovely addition to our little family.