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Stories by Rona

A tale of two sisters

Posted October 4, 2007

A marvelous thing happened one Wednesday morning last October, just after I blew in from yoga class.

My husband said, “Your sister called.” The very thought of a message from my sister Joyce has been known to make me quiver with alarm. I brace myself for a replay of our ancient, crazy-making script (her cajoling, my refusal; her tears, my lofty sigh). I remember the fierce, proud love that the sound of her voice unlocks in me. Then I yield to a surge of shame at what we might do to each other. Oh, for God’s sake. What is it about the two of us—responsible grown-up women, trying to do our best—that can turn so destructive when we speak?

Joyce RonaThat morning after yoga, I forgot all about those past conversations. I poured myself a coffee, settled in my favorite armchair and called Joyce back at her house on a mountainside in California, two time zones away from my condo in downtown Toronto. “Happy birthday,” she said.

I’d forgotten. It was October 20; I had just turned 57. And something in me had softened. It had happened so slowly that I missed the first signs, just as I missed the first hint of lines around my eyes. At 57, I had finally found the wisdom, or maybe just the sheer good sense, to embrace possibility instead of standing guard against pain.

My little sister was almost 53 (although in my mind she remained the pesky kid who used to borrow my clothes without asking and spill her milk all over my side of the dinner table). She has always remembered this day, no matter where in her travels she has just alighted, or what kind of commotion she’s embracing with her customary zestful resolve: a pie-baking class in her kitchen, a solo campaign to bring girls’ basketball to Guatemala, a book tour of 18 cities in two months. Why is it that Joyce, with her frantic schedule, has never forgotten my birthday while I, who have time for long walks that lead nowhere in particular, so rarely stay on top of hers (or anybody else’s)?

I’m told we look like sisters, but I’ve never seen the resemblance. It’s our lifelong differences that hold my attention. I’m reserved; she’s flamboyant and expressive. I fret over every decision; she’s bought houses faster than I’ve bought shoes. I’ve been married for 36 years to my first love and best friend; she’s long divorced, always coping single-handed with some crisis or other.  When we spoke on my 57th birthday, she’d just been hit with an obliterating plumber’s bill for a broken septic system, yet she said, with the brave, battered exuberance I’ve always loved in her, “Things are never so bad that I can’t have fun.”

There’s no one I phone every day, just to catch up, so I don’t really envy the women—I’ve known a few—who are always calling their sister. Still, I wish Joyce and I felt free to call each other for no reason but the pleasure of connection. I hope we’ll get there someday. In fact, I haven’t been so hopeful in years. But it probably can’t happen quite the way I’d like it to, because the pleasure we find in each other is tangled up with two lifetimes’ worth of rivalry and disappointment.

She has something I’ve always lacked: irresistible, effortless magnetism. Only my sister could find love on a Greyhound bus, while entertaining her daughter with such uproarious tales that a dashing and warm-hearted stranger was moved to tap her on the shoulder and say, “You must have dinner with me tonight.” And he’d been looking at the back of her head! I’m not in the market for romance myself, but if anything happens to my husband I’d be wise to get a dog. Arriving at a party, I’ll head for a quiet corner and engage one sympathetic soul in a heart-to-heart about books. Joyce always heads for the centre of things.

Correction: the centre follows her. People just have to meet my sister. And from the moment she entered my life, I knew it. How piercingly adorable she looked in her bassinet—skin the color of gingerbread, eyes like pools of melted chocolate. Our parents exclaimed at her beauty while I longed to bite off her little cookie head.

I thought I wanted a baby sister; I had name all picked out—Daphne, from my favourite Greek myth, about a nymph who prizes nothing more than her freedom. When Apollo falls in love with Daphne, she’s so determined to avoid his embraces that she turns into a tree. Daphne was my kind of heroine. Like her, I shrank from embraces, and my coolness had become a family joke. But my baby sister proved to be annoyingly cuddly. She curled herself against our mother’s bosom as if she intended to stay there forever. Even against our father’s bony chest, she found a place to fill with her tawny roundness.

She’d barely arrived when I announced—with a certain astuteness, if not with the purest of motives—that my baby sister didn’t look like Daphne. She would need another name, and she already had one: her middle name, Joyce.

One week old and she’d already lost her name to a controlling older sister. But of course I was nursing a loss of my own. Until Joyce came along, I too had been something of a charmer, albeit on a more modest scale. I used to tell stories that delighted our parents’ friends, and then I went quiet, just like that. In the charm competition, I’d been beaten by a baby.

LittlejoyceOur contrasting traits became the stuff of family legend. Joyce was the cheerful, try-anything dynamo, ready to throw her arms around the world. I was the anxious, morose one, Eeyore to her Piglet. When our mother served pie, I scrutinized the slices, ready to protest if Joyce had a crumb more than I did. The pie symbolized what I really craved: the undivided attention of the woman I loved more than anyone else in the world.

I was six when our mother lost patience with this. As Christmas approached, she taped a chart to the fridge door. Across the top she’d drawn cartoons representing all my nasty habits (mostly forms of meanness to my sister). For every infraction, I’d get an X on the chart. The number of Xs would determine what I found under the Christmas tree. Joyce didn’t have a behavior chart (explanation: “She’s only two!”). Compounding my silent fury, she would jump up and down when our mother reached for the special pen used only to blacken my name. “X on da chat!” she would trill, to everyone’s amusement but mine.

On Christmas morning I unwrapped a quilt for my doll, quickly handmade by our mother with a sheet of foam rubber inside. Then I looked at the quilt she had made for Joyce’s doll, exquisitely puffy and finished with silk thread. Joyce didn’t notice the difference, but our mother made certain that I did. “You had too many Xs and you’ve paid the price,” she said. I had a hunch even then that this deliberate slight was not Joyce’s fault, but I blamed my sister anyway. Blaming our mother, the trusted source of everything from bedtime stories to Band-Aids, was unthinkable to me.

At least I had talents Joyce didn’t possess: I drew, danced and wrote elaborate fantasies. Our parents exclaimed at my imaginative powers. Wouldn’t you know, Joyce set out to leave me in the dust. And she did. She wrote one-woman variety shows and staged them in our living room, complete with spoof commercials, while our parents applauded with feverish delight. They’d been craving the distraction that Joyce provided: our father was an alcoholic, prone to rages and impenetrable gloom. We never talked about the reason for “Daddy’s moodiness,” and high-spirited Joyce could create the illusion that all was well in our family.

ThegirlsWith my melancholy nature and constant complaints about imaginary illnesses, I compounded our parents’ unspoken desperation. Yet Joyce looked up to me, eager to hear my pronouncements on dollhouse décor and the rules of Monopoly. She made an acceptable playmate for a boring afternoon—but only until my friend Christina dropped by. Then I’d slam my bedroom door in Joyce’s face with a shiver of triumph. Our mother used to plead, “Rona, be patient with your sister.” Fat chance. Joyce had robbed me of enough already. She would eventually steal even my favourite author.

NytimesNowadays, even people who don’t know my sister often know one notorious detail of her history: her brief and wrenching love affair, at age 18, with the then 50-something author of The Catcher in the Rye. What people don’t know, of course, is that Joyce had never read The Catcher in the Rye. But Salinger didn’t want to talk about books. He just wanted to meet the winsomely precocious sprite—barely out of high school and already a famous journalist—whose photo he’d seen on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

That’s my sister for you. Not even the most famous recluse in modern letters could resist her enchantment. Thank goodness J.D. Salinger didn’t sweep me off to his lair on a New Hampshire hill, to subsist on sliced cucumbers and barely cooked lamb. Still, at the time, his fleeting adoration for Joyce reopened my ancient wound.

The year I turned 11, our mother fell dangerously ill with pneumonia. One night I stood in the doorway of Joyce’s room, watching her sleep. She had buried her face in a pile of stuffed animals that filled half the bed. I knew she needed comfort, which made two of us. If our mother died, we’d be left with our father, who burned the pots and drove drunk.  At seven, Joyce shared my secret fear. Still, it didn’t cross my mind to clear a place for myself beside her and put my arms around her. That would have forced me to admit the terrible bond of our helplessness.

Our mother didn’t die of pneumonia. She died of a brain tumour nearly 30 years later, in the pretty Victorian house that her second husband had bought for her. She had moved to Toronto to be with him. Joyce and I had already faced our father’s death, but the loss of our mother, who had always been the steadying hand of order in the family, threw us into a maelstrom of anger. We reverted to the roles we had played as children vying for our mother’s love.

Joyce, at 35, was the buoyant creator of cheer in the midst of anguish. Arriving in Toronto with her computer and her CDs, she took on our mother’s care with the same full-tilt multi-tasking that she’d formerly brought to her living-room variety shows. She decorated our mother’s breakfast tray with posies from the garden, she pushed the wheelchair in the park, she baked her special poppyseed cake, smiling as if this were an ordinary family reunion.

Meanwhile I searched for a quiet place where I could speak with my mother before the tumour silenced her forever. About to turn 40, I still longed for her attention.  Hands-on care was not my strength, so I would  sit with her in the garden, scribbling furiously as she dictated farewell letters to her friends.

The crisis flared as our mother grew weaker. My stepfather and I believed she needed round-the-clock nursing care.  Joyce was determined to remain the primary caregiver even though she was running out of strength. Her smile tightened at the corners as the house throbbed with her efforts: the whizzing Mixmaster, the increasing struggle to get our mother down the stairs and into the wheelchair. It seemed to me that our focus had shifted from helping our mother die to sustaining the fiction of her place in the world outside her bedroom.

When I tried to discuss this with Joyce (gracelessly, I’m sure; my strength was also gone), she would burst into tears and leave the room. She thought I was cold and ungrateful for all her hard work; I thought she was hysterical. In my way, I too rode a surging tide of emotion that kept pulling me under. I remember telling Joyce, with ferocious conviction, “Your behavior is making me physically ill.” I remember my husband telling me, “When you talk about your sister, an ugly look comes into your eyes.”

I cringed, knowing he was right. But I also knew—along with my stepfather and a number of friends—that our family couldn’t go on like this.

Our stepfather wrote Joyce a letter setting firm conditions on her time with our mother: when she could visit, where she would stay (with a neighbor, not in the house). He had my support. In Joyce’s eyes, her own sister had betrayed her. Even worse, I was leaving her alone in the world. The letter reached Joyce while her husband was ending their marriage. She later told me, “You did violence to me.” I did, and knowingly—but also to myself. I felt not unlike the desperate outdoorsman who, pinned by his arm beneath a fallen tree, took out his utility knife and cut off the arm.

I didn’t want to see Joyce, but I had to. Our mother’s death soon required us to empty our mother’s house, which brimmed with her copious possessions. While Joyce and a friend drove to Toronto in a van, I made a number of executive decisions, none involving items she’d mentioned. I promised the teak table to a woman who had loved our mother and warmly remembered her dinner parties. It turned out that Joyce had other plans. She wanted to give the teak table to her friend, but I refused to break my promise. Joyce bristled with tearful fury, then took off.

At the time her reaction made no sense to me. How could someone who didn’t know our mother trump someone who had cherished her for years? I thought Joyce and I had been fighting about the claims of two people outside the family, when the real issue involved a power struggle between ourselves. As the older sister, I assumed the right to make certain decisions, like a queen donning her mantle. This has been my habit ever since I claimed the right to change the channel on our parents’ black and white TV. No wonder Joyce was wild with frustration.

We had entered our most difficult years. Until our mother’s death exposed the unresolved conflict between us, we could trade family gossip on the phone for an hour at a stretch (this happened just often enough to create the illusion of closeness). Every summer my husband and I would rent a cottage near Joyce’s house in New Hampshire, so our son could get to know his cousins. Now Joyce had moved to California, and the Maynard family had shrunk to ourselves.

We had never been close, as we both should have known from those summer visits. Every time I looked forward to Joyce’s madcap stories and unquenchable energy. Every time I’d hurt her feelings her by needing a break from the barbecues and outings she planned for us. She seemed to want something from me—a two-hearts-as-one intensity—that I didn’t want from her. It was easier to keep my distance.

We were both in our forties when Joyce called to say she was coming to Toronto.To Die For, a movie based on one of her books, had been chosen to open the Toronto International Film Festival, and the producers were flying her in for the gala. Mixed emotions tugged at me—eagerness to see Joyce, fear of her expectations. She’d want to stay at our house, but we’d already tried that once and I had felt overwhelmed by her sheer nonstop busyness.

My home has always been my refuge from the world; she transformed it, with the best of intentions, into backstage on the opening night of a mega-musical. I remembered Joyce in my kitchen, with the phone under her chin, a pastry blender in her hand, flour everywhere and the stereo at full volume, juggling her complicated schedule while I waited for things to calm down so that I could start the rest of our dinner. She’d been baking me one of her transcendent pies, so it seemed churlish to not to be grateful. But if I let her stay with me again, we would both pay the price for my annoyance. Could I help with her hotel arrangements?

No. She wanted to stay with us. Was that so much to ask from her only sister? Her voice trembled; I knew she was crying.

All night I agonized. I couldn’t bear to hurt my sister—or to lose myself placating her. Then I remembered the hotel at the end of our street. My husband and I would move stay there during her visit, leaving Joyce the run of our house. We’d come home in the morning to have breakfast together; we’d take Joyce out for a pre-gala dinner. That’s exactly what we did, and to me it felt absolutely right. But not to her. She couldn’t let the matter drop. At my kitchen table, she pressed me to explain why I wasn’t the welcoming sister she wished I could be. If I really loved her, wouldn’t I want to share my home with her?

Some time after that, we stopped speaking. I’d been on my way to California, hoping we could meet for dinner, when she e-mailed me to say that she would have to pass. My presence in her life—skeptical and distant instead of ebullient and accepting—caused her too much pain. Better we should love each other from afar. Her decision saddened me, but I was not about to argue. We brought out the worst in each other.

I can’t recall how many years our silence lasted. I only remember Joyce’s birthday greetings, which continued to arrive by e-mail on October 20: “dear r, happy birthday. I hope it was a good one. love, j.” The wording never varied. Had she programmed her computer to remember this day?

Maynard Chatelaine CropIn the years of our silence, I’d have said I didn’t miss her. I had another challenge on my mind: editing Chatelaine, where my monthly column had won a loyal following. Readers often wrote, “I feel as if you’re my sister.” What would they think if they knew I had a sister with whom I no longer spoke? They didn’t even know she existed. In my column, I had shared the true story of my life except the chapter on Joyce. It was just too vexing and would never fit on one page.

Meanwhile thoughts of my sister kept tugging at me. Sometimes between meetings I would visit her website and click on “A letter from Joyce.” I must have been on her mind, too, because one day she called to ask, “So whose idea was it that we weren’t speaking?”

“Yours, of course.” I had to have the last word—the time-honored prerogative of older sisters.

Looking back on my life as a sister, I’m struck by the importance I’ve attached to the four years between Joyce and me. When we were growing up, four years meant the difference between ABCs and cursive writing, ankle socks and pantyhose, Disney movies and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Four years were the mountain from which I looked down on a know-nothing kid. I cultivated an air of regal authority that served me well in my editing career. Junior staff understood that if they let me down, I would give them “the look,” which I had practiced to withering perfection on Joyce.

At 55 I left my editing job to become a full-time writer-my sister’s career for more than three decades. I no longer needed “the look,” any more than I needed the designer suits that now hung at the back of my closet. The boundaries of my life began to soften and shift. I discovered how the sunlight streams into my home as winter gives way to spring. I reread The Catcher in the Rye and decided that Holden Caulfield, who had seemed so endearingly sensitive in my teenage years, was in fact the lonely prisoner of his own merciless judgments.

Wondering what Joyce was doing, I sat down at the computer and clicked on “A letter from Joyce.” There I read—along with untold thousands of strangers—that Joyce was moving to New England. Then we’d be in the same time zone and I could fly up for the weekend. I thought of all the things I didn’t know about my sister-the book on her bedside table, the most-played songs on her iPod, what she was doing about menopause (perhaps it started during our silence). I was probably the only person living who remembered her birth, yet her adult life was a poignant box of mysteries.

Suddenly it struck me: I missed her. Wouldn’t you know, she’d been missing me, too. A day or so later, she called on my birthday. She’d already changed her mind about moving to New England, but her bright cascade of laughter was just as I remembered.

The wonder to me now is not the rage and resentment that divided us for so many years, but the staunch, insistent love that keeps pulling us together.  Joyce and I are equals now, two accomplished, middle-aged women who, between us, have sent four grownup children into the world. Perhaps we’ve always been more equal than I knew, both shaped by the same endearingly troubled family as no one but the two of us will ever comprehend. I saw her feigned sprightliness; she saw my misery. Now we’re finally free to choose which aspects of our childhood to abandon, and which ones to mine as we become our best selves.

Daphne was the nymph who ran away from love. When I took that name away from Joyce, I thought I was getting my own back. But here’s something I didn’t know. My name, Rona, is derived from the Hebrew word for “joy.” So in essence we share a name. I like knowing this. It gives me hope.

First published in MORE, September 2007, in slightly different form, along with Joyce’s account of our relationship. (For her take on our story, visit her website.) Click here for advice on reconciling with your sister. For more about The Catcher in the Rye and its changing role in my life, click here.

Posted by Rona



Previously posted comments:

Comment
Patti Smith
June 19, 2009 at 6:06AM

The Tale of Two Sisters resonated with me. It was as if it was the tale of my older sister and myself. We are six years apart, both adopted. I never felt like I belonged – or that my sister even wanted me there. Later, after our mother’s death, the gloves came off and I learned from my sister that she indeed never wanted me, never wanted to share the affections of our parents. She resented me. I grew up with an absent sister. Every time I would reach out to her, I would get shut down. I guess I too, took up too much “space”. Now at age 54, I am longing for a sister that I know I will probably never have. I have tried to grieve, move on, but there is a huge aching hole in my heart that only belongs to my sister.

Reply
Rona Maynard
June 19, 2009 at 6:06 AM

Patti, I’m always glad to see a comment from a new visitor (or perhaps one who hasn’t felt moved to comment before). But I wish you had a happier reason for writing. Isn’t it strange how, in so many families, the death of a parent magnifies tensions and resentments that have been smoldering for years? During their lifetimes, parents unconsciously enforce certain rules about how the family works—what can be said, what must be ignored or glossed over, and so on. In a troubled family like yours or mine, a mother often learns to keep an uneasy peace, knowing she’ll be judged as a bad mother if her kids can’t get along. Then she dies and war breaks out over what the new rules will be. Siblings who fight over a parent’s possessions or what becomes of the family home (as so many siblings do) are in fact embroiled in a power struggle dating back to childhood.

Comment
Patti Smith
June 19, 2009 at 7:07AM

I remember Mom always saying, “I just want you two girls to get along!”. She was the peacemaker of our family. You know, after reading your story and your sister’s I see myself and I see my sister in both of them. My sister asked me “So, which one are you?”. And I would say both.

Reply
Rona Maynard
June 19, 2009 at 7:07 AM

If your sister has also read our stories, then at least the two of you are talking about your relationship. And that’s a start.

Comment
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
August 03, 2009 at 7:07PM

Hi Rona,

I love your words: “…embrace possibility instead of standing guard against pain.” That works on so many levels — not just sisterhood! Dating, marriage, career, having kids, taking a calligraphy class, joining a softball team….the greatest possiblity of success and adventure comes when we focus on the exciting possibilities. Let the walls down.

That quotation is worthy of being published in a book, and I hope one day it is! 🙂

All best,

Laurie

Reply
Rona Maynard
August 04, 2009 at 6:06 AM

I’ve always enjoyed books of quotations—they’re a wonderful way to dip in and out of other people’s wisdom. It would be a treat to be included in one of those compilations. After so many thousands and thousands of published words, that’s my secret aspiration (secret until now, that is).

Comment
Lorrie
January 10, 2010 at 1:01PM

Hi Rona….Beautifully written. I’m the older sister with straight brown hair and blue eyes. When I was 4, my parents adopted another child–a baby girl with curly blonde hair and twinkling green eyes

I retreated into books with our parents, difficult also but in very different ways–my sister twinkled and charmed while I fumed from behind the covers of a novel. I always got the blue dress, the blue bow, the blue whatever–and my sister got the pink. Today 1/2 of my wardrobe is pink!!!

1 1/2 years ago, we had to deal with a mother who was rapidly descending into the hell of Alzheimer’s. My sister wanted to keep her at home. I am the family money manager and had to tell my sister that we could not afford round the clock attendants and she needed to go to a nursing home. Rona, I can’t think of anything in my life that was more painful than confronting my sister over this.

You might say that I can identify. My sister and I are close–we live within 4 blocks of each other and speak often–both attorneys–but oh so different in many ways. She visits Mom every week; I go on holidays. I cannot bear to watch our brilliant mother sitting in diapers with a glazed look in her eyes.

Yes, yes, I get it.

And if she were here, she’d have a different story to tell. We make it work, but we’re often secretly wishing “if you could only see things MY way!”

I adopted two girls myself and they are weirdly enough almost recreating some of the dynamics of my childhood. All I can do is hope that they can wade through the shrapnel and keep each other close when their father and I are gone.

Reply
Rona Maynard
January 10, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Lorrie, the love and the connection shine through your frank assessment of your tangled bond with your sister. What the two of you have experienced with your mother—heightened sisterly stress as a parent declines—is sadly typical, despite the myth that families pull together in times of crisis. Well, not always! I’m sure many sisters will identify with your story as I do while wading through that shrapnel.

Comment
Deborah James
February 01, 2010 at 9:09AM

For years as a Canadian, I would see your picture in Chatalaine. Believe it or not people did know that Joyce was your sister. I certainly did. Im glad you have publicly fessed up to being jealous and cold-hearted towards Joyce, but you reasoning of her being too much or too intense is a miserable exuse. All that should have mattered to you was her intent. It wasn’t selfish or distant at least.

Reply
Rona Maynard
February 02, 2010 at 8:08 AM

Deborah, I always welcome an honest opinion—even when it’s sharply critical. Reassuring as it is to be loved and respected, being heartily disliked or at least found highly suspect is part of the human condition. Believe it or not, I’ve been wondering ever since this site began when someone would take issue with me not simply for what I believe (which has happened a time or two) but with who I am as a person. And now here you are—a reminder that even in the bubble of my own site, where the regular commenters are virtual friends, I’m just as fallible and flawed and (to some) unlikeable as everyone else on this planet. Thank you for your spirited contribution to one of the longest and liveliest threads on my site. Oh, one more thing: I could never have harboured the notion that people didn’t know Joyce was my sister. Not after all the nosy Salinger-related questions that have come my way for years!

Comment
Elizabeth Flores
August 28, 2010 at 8:08AM

Rona,
Your story of the relationship between you and Joyce has affected me deeply, in ways that I can’t begin to articulate. Thank you for sharing such painful, honesty about a very complex relationship. As the sister “in the middle”, I hope someday to reach the level of understanding and acceptance that you have achieved.

Reply
Rona Maynard
August 28, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Thank you, Elizabeth. You and your sisters might surprise yourselves, just as Joyce and I did. People change in surprising ways.

Comment
Lucie
August 21, 2012 at 7:07PM

Hi Rona, I am reading Deborah Tannen’s book about sisters in which she talks about this article and the relationship that you and Joyce have. I have never read anything else by either of you, but after reading this, I will be! Thank you for sharing this family history with all of us. It is inspiring to know that a deep rift can be healed.

Reply
Rona Maynard
November 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Thank you for visiting, Lucie. I loved what Deborah Tannen wrote about my sister and me. Now you can get to know us even better through our own books.

Comment
Ronna Payne
March 18, 2013 at 12:12AM

Yes, it’s time to truly face the facts of a wide rift between me and my sister (4 years older). I look forward to reading more from you-along with the continued “letters” from Joyce. I remember reading your mothers columns as a young wife and mother and then those from Joyce. I knew she had a sister, also her name, but did not know you are also a writer. rnThanks for some of the insight I have already gained from reading “your side of the story”.rnRonna

Reply
Rona Maynard
March 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Thanks for visiting, Ronna. If you’d like to see more from me, check out my memoir, My Mother’s Daughter.

Comment
Janny Bush
March 30, 2013 at 7:07PM

I remember reading articles written by Joyce while in my youth, but It is a delightful discovery to meet her sister in my 60’s! The relationship between the two of you has brought some clarity to my own relationship with my sister. Thanks to both of you for being able to write about it. I am excited about reading more!

Reply
Rona Maynard
April 05, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Thanks for visiting, Janny. I hope you’ll take a look around and make yourself comfortable. If you’re really keen to read more, check out my memoir, My Mother’s Daughter (excerpt provided here).

Comment
Carol Cassara
September 19, 2013 at 6:06PM

I read both of your essays this afternoon–I have a similar sisterly scenario but the gap hasn’t been breached yet. And I am 62 and the oldest, she is 3 years younger. So many considerations lately as I move toward the possibility of contact–so much apprehension…. I am thinking deeply about what you both had to say and so appreciate finding this after so many years.

Reply
Rona Maynard
September 20, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Good luck, Carol. If we could get past that gap, there’s hope for you. I’ll be thinking of you both.

Comment
Carol Barringer
March 29, 2014 at 7:07AM

Hello, Rona — I knew you, and met your sister a number of times, when I lived just outside Durham as a child. I was in your class, grades 5 and 6; then we moved to Vermont for a couple of years, then back to Dover, where I had your mother as a writing teacher in high school. I have very limited memories of my childhood due to abuse, but I do remember you and your sister. I remember you as impossibly smart and a writer of amazing stories. I remember your sister as little, (scrawny, even), and cute but annoying — perhaps because that description fits my own younger sister as well — so much of what you’ve written would describe my relationship with my sister, now at a dead end. I’ve been reading Joyce’s books recently, what’s available in the library, and will look for yours as well. Best wishes, Carol

Comment
Christina Archer
April 04, 2014 at 1:01PM

My sympathies are with you- I imagine that your sister Joyce would have been difficult to grow up with. Her primal cry seems to be ‘Me, me! Glorious me!’ But, connecting with a sibling after the death of your parents is a necessity. All the best to you both.

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