Friday, 24 April 2009
My sister Colette was born when I was 13 months old. Colette had two older brothers and six older sisters; she was the 7th girl born and the 9th child in a family that would be comprised of 13 children.
Many of my early memories of Colette are helped along by photographs. There are some of her sitting in a high chair with her blue/black hair; a couple of her and I in pajamas sitting on stuffed dogs or lions (I don’t remember which); teenagers going off to school; and pictures of us both in wedding dresses on the very same day.
Colette is so full of life and spunk it is unreal. You could never keep this girl down. If you tried she would eat your arm off and not by gnawing slowly over a period of days but by biting off big chunks over a period of a few hours.
When we would be in bed; and by we, I mean Mickey, Shelly and I in one bed and Jacquie, Camille, and Colette in the other bed, it was quite common for Colette to get out of bed and then prance back in the room making us all laugh. We would all try not to laugh because to release that first laugh was ammunition for Colette to come in the room and do the exact same skit for the next 40 minutes.
Colette has never been able to say a joke all the way through without laughing her head off at herself. ‘So yeah, you guys har har har ha ha ha har, yeah, this guy was selling orange juice and, har har hardee har har, etc.’ So if you can; imagine the laughter that would ensue. The laughter was never at the joke because we never got to hear it all. The laughter was at Colette who cracked her own self up.
When I graduated Grade 12, I got a 1965 Rambler Ambassador convertible from my parents. The car was beautiful and was white with red leather seats (okay it is not about the car), back to Colette. I knew something big was going down because all of my brothers and sisters were so excited and cameras were out and my parents were anxiously waiting for me in the yard. I saw the car with the ribbon and was like wow, I love it. But what really sticks out in my mind still is not the car, it was Colette’s face.
I can picture Colette’s face as clear as a bell. She was more excited than I was. She was happier for me than I was for myself. She was prouder of me than I ever could be of myself. And that picture that is clear as a bell to me even today has always spoken volumes of Colette and her good nature and love of others, especially of me.
Colette and I had a double wedding. She married her husband Rick and I married my husband Wahid. She loved our wedding and I didn’t like it at all. She always makes me laugh about it though because she will not let an anniversary go by without saying to me ‘I loved our wedding’ and I then say to her ‘I didn’t.’
Colette gave birth to her first child Rickie three days after I had my first child Angelique. I had a natural birth (with all the doses of all meds that they would give me) and Colette had a caesarian (now I can barely get through the story because I am laughing so much).
Colette and I were in the same room in the maternity ward and I remember while poor Colette is hanging on to an IV pole, I’m saying ‘let’s go see the babies’ and Colette can barely budge. She keeps trying and I keep going ‘oh brother, come on Colette, it can’t be that hard,’ and she can barely move. I know it isn’t funny, but for some reason it totally cracks me up. I see myself as an arrogant little shit-head who knew nothing but thought I knew it all. Thinking ‘I just had a baby too Colette and if I can jump through hoops so can you.’
As you can see, not only some of my happiest memories have involved Colette, but so have some of the most important.
Colette is still one of the people that can make me laugh when I’m not supposed to. You know when you are in church or at a funeral or saying the family rosary or if someone falls down the stairs and everyone oohs and awes, well all I do is look at Colette knowing full well that she is stifling a laugh and then we both bust a gut.
Another example of Colette’s humour is when I was really sad about my cancer situation, I would say to Colette that I am Debbie Downer and then an hour later she would call back and ask for Debbie and say it is her twin sister Dixie on the phone.
Contrary to what others might say I am Colette’s favourite sister.
Describing Colette I would have to say that she is a very attractive woman and still has long jet black hair with maybe one or four strands of grey in it. Colette has beautiful blue eyes and still is and has always been gorgeous. Colette is funny, loyal, honest, selfless, generous, open, energetic, game for anything, has a huge heart and faces the world head on. I am and always have been very proud that Colette is my sister.
Sisters written by Ruth Whitman:
When Nan and I were little
we sometimes used to fight:
she’d read my secret diary
and I would scratch and bite.
If she pulled up the window shade
I would want it down;
if she wore short pajamas
I’d wear a long nightgown.
But then we learned it’s better
to have a sister-friend,
someone beside you in the dark,
someone to hold your hand.
Now we’re glad my hair is long
and hers is short and curled.
The difference doesn’t matter:
we’re two against the world.
I love my sister and she means the world to me. Colette thank you for the privilege.
Happy 52nd Birthday Colette. Love Renee, Wahid, Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan, and Josephine.
*artwork by Kelly Vivanco