Autobiography, Holidays

For my sister on National Siblings Day

Karen in 1973, age 7.

Karen in 1973, age 7.

Nuts. I missed recognizing my sister Karen during National Siblings Day. I have no excuse other than I didn’t know there was a National Siblings Day – which is surprising since Wikipedia says it’s been around since 1995.

I guess I owe her 10 years worth of gifts or something, right?

I admit I feel bad about missing this time-honored holiday. After all, Karen has been my favorite (and only) sister for 48 years (that’s 336 dog-years, arguably a very long time for man or beast). Because I feel so guilty, I thought I’d share some things about her with you.

First of all, my sister and I are complete opposites. I’m a male and she’s a female. I’m blond with blue eyes and she’s a brunette with brown eyes. I preferred Big Jim and his Sports Camper to the Sunshine Family. But, to be fair, we did have one thing in common: we both liked to skip school to watch Luke and Laura fall in love on General Hospital.

Karen’s astrological sign is Capricorn, the Goat. This is fitting because, like a goat, she used to eat some strange things. As a little girl, she liked ketchup bread: a slice of bread slathered with ketchup. I found this unsettling because I preferred mustard bread. Mustard bread was normal. Ketchup bread was not.

Speaking of Capricorn, did you know that the globe has a Tropic of Capricorn? It’s below the Equator and is the southernmost point where the sun is directly overhead. Strangely enough, I’m a Cancer. The Tropic of Cancer is above the Equator, the northernmost point where the sun is directly overhead. That happens in June, my birth month. I’ve always wondered if mom and dad planned it that way.

Why mom would put Karen on the counter is a mystery (1969).

Why mom would put Karen on the counter is a mystery (1969).

Karen was the first female born to our direct Cole lineage since 1861. Our second great grandparents Hezekiah Walker Cole and Charity Washburn had six children. The last of their children was our great grandaunt Anna Eliza Cole. She was born on April 16th that year. Anna’s brother Orange, our great grandfather, only had a son. That son, Frederick, married Rose Dattler. While the two had six children, the only one to survive to adulthood was our father Howard – a boy.

Karen was a big fan of Rick Springfield and Shaun Cassidy. She used to have a Rick Springfield poster in her room and used to swoon every time she heard him on the radio (she will deny this but without proof, it stands as fact…). She used to have slumber parties all the time, too. As a boy, I loved them. She always had cute friends but she’d get mad when I tried to date them (I did anyway).

Although she was younger, she was the first of us to be allowed to ride our bicycles beyond our driveway and on the road. I remember being upset about it. I never considered that she was the first of us to be employed, however. She babysat and actually made money. I soaked off my parents.

She was, and is, a very kind person. A very long time ago, she and I went with our mother, father, and grandparents to play Bingo. Karen won more than $200 on a single card… and split the prize with me! We both bought new bicycles – 10-speeds, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to return the favor because I’ve yet to win anything. I promise that if I ever do, it’s 10-speeds for everyone!

Uh... John and Karen in 1979.

Uh… John and Karen in 1979.

Karen has been, and is, the perfect sister: she’s low maintenance and self-sufficient. She doesn’t call for money, limits her gossip to a minimum, and has yet to be arrested.

She’s artistic and crafty, too. She supports both her daughter and her daughter’s school by designing parade floats, posters, and displays. She’s great with papier-mâché and has this nearly full-sized giraffe in her living room. Even in high school she excelled. Although a year junior, we had one art class together. She totally blew me away with her pastel rendition of a Chinese gentleman – so lifelike it was wicked scary (In contrast, I did a not-so-realistic character from the movie Tron as well as Ricardo Montalban as Kahn from Star Trek. What the heck was I thinking?).

We don’t talk too often and it’s rare that we see each other. My job with the Coast Guard has a tendency to place me far away. Still, I love her dearly and wouldn’t change anything about her. I’m very proud of the woman she’s become and will always be there for her.

Happy (late) National Siblings Day, Karen! I love you!

Today my sister and her husband Brad are residents of Orchard Park, New York where they have a nice little house, a nice little dog, and a nice little girl who’s not so little anymore.

Brad, Karen, and daughter Jillian with 80s superstar Glenn Medeiros in Hawaii (2013)

Brad, Karen, and daughter Jillian with 80s superstar Glenn Medeiros in Hawaii (2013)



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