A couple of days ago, one of my five God Children broke their arm. Thankfully he’s okay and on the mend but it took me back to an event that is pretty well etched in my mind. I could completely empathise with him. That one day I am reminded how strong relationships can be, and forever stay.
So, we go back to about 1982 maybe? It was a hot summer, the weather was warm. We lived in a commission house, a three bedroom brick veneer, which I thought was pretty cool! The toilet had a double entry, sliding doors either side of it, one led to the bathroom, and the other to the laundry, it was shit hot! I laugh now, because that shit hot sliding door, twin entry was stock standard in a commission homes. Back then I had no clue it was commission and now, it matters not. We moved around a fair amount in my early years and this was our home for a short but steady length of time, I was happy! I shared a bedroom with my eldest little sister, a feisty, red-head when necessary or a beautiful strawberry blonde when she was putting “it on”. Either way, we were room buddies! Her and I got up to a bit of mischief back then. A few instances come to mind so let me start with probably the worst. Actually, it’s the worst thing I have ever done and I think about it more than I should. The type of kids that we were, moving around, it was easy to get chummy with our next door neighbours. Beside us lived a family with a girl, and a boy, I think. The eldest was about my age and she was pretty pushy. You know, that one friend that can manipulate you, and make you do just about anything? She was it. She was a blonde girl, skinny with lots of forehead and a squeaky voice. That’s how I remember her. It was a constant competition between us, who had the best clothes, who wore the coolest shoes. Toys, don’t get me started! We didn’t have much, and what we did have generally came as a hand me down from our cousins. Pushy Girl was an expert of rubbing shit in ones face. For her birthday she was given a really cool bike. I envied her. It had gears and she was kind enough to let me learn to ride on it, but I always knew it was HERS. I donned her very cool white stack hat and I picked up riding quickly. We didn’t have bikes of our own, so we would share. My sister learnt to ride too, although she was a bit younger than me, she still learned. She was a bit of a tom boy back then. Loved anything blue so she learned on the boys bike. Everything was cool. We always asked first and got off when we were asked to. Anyways, this one day they had friends over. We were all riding and playing together nicely, then a game of dare, double dare. Before we even knew it we were in a stand-off. I was cradling a rock, double the size of my hand. I held it with two hands it was so big. Pitted surface, and covered in dirt. My sister stood right beside me. Pushy Girl had taken me to my limit, and I’m a very patient person. “I dare you!” she said, “no, I DOUBLE dare you to throw it at me!” in her squeaky voice from Hell. I can still hear my little brain ticking over, weighing up this decision, it’s wrong, completely wrong but FUCK me, she’s NOT winning this one. She always fucking won. I threw that rock. I really fucking threw it. Straight at her head. It smashed into her forehead. A blood draining thud as it crashed into her head and dropped to the ground. I was in shock, more so that I had thrown that bloody rock, than it actually hitting her head. My sister swore out loud “bloody hell Nom!” and Pushy Girl dropped to her knees. I fucking RAN! I was in BIG SHIT! I knew it was wrong, everything in my guts, head and body told me it was wrong, but I still did it. My sister ran behind me, giggling, straight to our room and up on my bed. For what seemed like an eternity we sat together, knees to our chest, arms linked together, backs to the wall. I was petrified. Mum never came. After a while I could hear yelling out the front. Our bedroom window faced the street. We both peered through the window to see Pushy Girl standing there, hands on hips, yelling at me from the nature strip. She had a big bandage on her forehead, she’d been to the hospital and back already. We had been sitting in my bedroom the whole time she’d been gone. We sat back down as Dad rolled into the driveway, staring at Pushy Girl with a confused look on his face. Next thing, Dad was in front of me and I was getting the BIGGEST hiding of my life. All I heard him yelling was, “you know better! 10 bloody stitches,” My poor sister copped one too, just for being there. She was always there. We moved not long after.
My sister and I were pretty thick, like glue. We did everything together. Mum even dressed us the same. She loved to push a boundary or two. We spent most of our days outside, rain hail or shine. Our backyard had a totally cool swing set that Dad made himself and we lived on it. For Christmas we even got an Olympic sized tramp, just so Dad could get on it too! Like most yards back then we also had a Hills Hoist clothes line. We spent quite a few afternoons on that too. Swinging around and around and around. It was way better than the swings or tramp. Mum’s brother and his wife, a couple who had no children of their own were babysitting us this day, while Mum and Dad were at a wedding. We were just “hanging around” in the back yard. Literally. It was my turn, so I jumped up, clasping my hands around one of the grey poles on the clothes line. Completely suspended, my feet hung about four-foot off the ground. The line had to be high enough so that you weren’t pushing or pulling, just sort of running underneath the hanger-on-er. The further out from the center you held, the faster you would fly. Hanging on tight, my hands sweaty and stiff from the half-dozen goes before. My sister grabbed my heels and began to pull me along. She was running fast, really fast, clutching my ankles tight. I was laughing my head off, Aunt and Uncle completely oblivious to what’s going on out back. Laughing, laughing, barely able to breathe, “wait, let go!” I laboured. “I’m gunna drop.” … “Nah, you’ll be right!” She replied pulling faster. The yard whizzing past a great rate of knots, “STOP!”… By the time she had let go, I had dropped, straight to the hard ground like a sack of shit. At first I didn’t feel it, and then the pain grabbed me by the wrist. Oh it throbbed. The dull ache was unbearable. My left forearm was caning. Needless to say, Mum and Dad were called, which back then was a bit of a task with no mobiles. Dragged off to the Doctor, a plaster cast was applied. Right before Christmas. I spent 6 weeks in that cast, and I couldn’t swim. We spent that Christmas with the same Uncle and Aunt and they had a pool… I watched my sisters swimming. The cruelty of it. It was the hottest of hot summers. The Mallee was in a drought and we were in the thick of it all summer. The itching, the sweat, the weight of it drove me crazy.
There wasn’t always the heat. Ballarat was cold. Sleet, hail, rain. As a kid everything is bigger, colder and hotter. But this one night was cold. Our nightly bath was done and bed was next. We sat, crossed legged on the carpet, watching the news in the lounge. Our baby sister asleep. Dad was working away, and if we were quiet enough, Mum would let us stay up. Eyes getting heavier, Mum put us to bed. “It’s supposed snow tonight she whispered” tucking us in. We had never seen the snow. My sister and I had drifted off to sleep, clearly only just. Mum shook us excitedly, “it’s snowing!” We chased her down the passage, to the back door. Flicking on the light switch, the snow flakes lit up. “Wow” we both gasped. Chucking our gumboots on and a dressing gown, mum let us frolic in it. A light film of snow-covered the grass. Not for long though, it was so cold. She took us back to bed. Laying there awake, we waited for mum to get settled in front of the telly. We laid on our bellies, in our dressing gowns and slippers, peering down the passage in the dark. It didn’t take long. Perhaps we couldn’t wait. Slowly, silently we crawled on our hands and knees, down the passage, through the entry past the glow of the telly and into the kitchen. Standing slowly I twisted the snib and we snuck onto the porch. In that moment we were transfixed by the sight. The moon was peeking through the clouds and the snow drifted down. Holding her hand, we crawled under the picnic table and sat together in silence, just watching the snow. We shivered. Teeth chattering, we giggled it away. So pretty, falling, dancing in the moonlight. So cold. The concrete we sat on was freezing and my bum was numb. That night was a profound moment, a time I shall treasure. It’s not often you sit quietly with a sister, my sister. Mum found us not long after. She couldn’t hide her amusement in her scolding. How could we not be excited. Straight back to bed.
My sister has always been there. Among the rock throwing, snow watching, the spud peeling and everything in between. She has stood and sat beside me through it all. We’ve giggled, cried and mourned over the same things. We copped more than our share of hidings together, those well deserved and even ones that weren’t. I love her for her red-head feistiness, her brutal honesty and the way she executes a “Swan Dive” perfectly at the local pool. She’s the first to put an arsehole back in his place in defence of her sisters, and she loves to stir the pot with her smart witty tongue. I’m glad I’m me and that she’s my sister. But, she still thinks it my fault I broke my arm, and I should have held on!
Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!