Notes from a Native Daughter

"Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I'm...." by Princess Rachella

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I'm...."

No two ways about it. August will probably be the toughest month for me for the rest of my life. Lots going on. Estranged younger sister Rebecca's birthday is August 1st. 'Nuff said. Father Lewis's birthday is the 7th; he died on the 14th. And this year, of all years to have to endure the August Blues, when Nairobi has recorded its "coldest" winter in decades, my eldest sister Julie would have turned 60 years old tomorrow.

Seriously, I didn't intend to let it wallop me. Truth be told, there's been so much travel and work and other assorted activity going on these past few weeks, I wasn't even aware that it had gobsmacked me until this morning, when a calendar declared it was August 16th. If Julie was alive today, I'd probably be in Hawaii, or somewhere else she really loved. I'd have begged, borrowed or stole to make tomorrow one of the best birthdays of her life. Even though her energy and life force would have made it hard to believe she was actually 60, I would have orchestrated the biggest BIG 6-0 blowout in recorded history.

But then, just this morning, I thought of an even bigger gift I could have given her, one she would have cherished more than a week at a Maui resort or a piece of her beloved spangly jewelry. For some reason, this morning I was focusing on the fact that she was really pushing hard there toward the end for me to have a kid. While I still had fully-functioning, "set your clock by 'em" ovaries, just before I turned 40, she had even started to relax her rather rigid moral code about out of wedlock birth. She just wanted relatively unfettered access to child she could spoil beyond human comprehension. When my menopausal symptoms kicked in a few years later, and Julie actually witnessed the horrific flop sweats and depressive episodes, she started gently suggesting adoption.

More than the actual presence of a child, I think Julie just wanted to see me settled. With a family of my own. I don't know, I suspect maybe she just wanted to hand off the baton! She knew I considered her heart my home, and that no matter how far I traveled or how low I may have fallen, I'd always have a home wherever she lived.

DAMMIT!!!!! I am not going to let this devolve into a maudlin, self-indulgent pity post! Instead, I'm choosing to remember the goofy times, and we had plenty. Like in this picture. Clearly, this was back before I knew I had a killer smile. Or more to the point, before I even really knew how to smile. It was right before my Junior Prom, when Julie and Ron were my "dates." And while I awkwardly bared my grill for the camera that night, I was probably very hopeful that the lime green polyester dress I'd borrowed from Julie would magically transform me into an irresistible "Chocolate Cinderella," and the captain of the basketball team would ask me to dance, clasping me in a swoony embrace, and he would hungrily kiss my upturned lips and we would fall in love and we would live happily ever after.

But we all know there ain't no happily ever after, as was evidenced by the fact that several hours after that picture was taken, I found myself as part of a Soul Train line of sorts consisting of me and every teacher at Cairo High, without a randy teenaged male humanoid in sight. No, in this life, there's just living from strength to strength, and that's only if you're lucky. And if that strength includes somebody to hold your hand through the tough stuff, then that's better than any golden carriage and 4 white horses.

That said, I still miss my sister Julie. Insanely so. And at some point tomorrow, I hope she sends me a sign that turning 60 in Heaven is just as cool as the party I would have thrown for her. If nothing else, I just hope she sends me something to really smile about.

Posted by Princess Rachella at 3:33 PM