|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
My brother and I were visiting with my mother the other day, doing some housework and other chores for her. We decided to take a break and go down to the corner store for a cold drink so we hopped in my car and drove the couple of hundred yards down the hill. The idiocy of driving the short distance didn't strike us until we were already parked and getting out of the car. Neither of us are the least bit lazy, but it just goes to show you how habitual driving is. On the other hand, the reason for our lack of judgment may be more weather related than anything else. We have not made the adjustment from mind-destroying cold to survivable climate yet.
We were laughing about our foolishness and heading into the store when we were stopped by a man wearing the uniform of the establishment. He was white haired, ancient, slim and tiny. Being labeled as tiny standing next to us is no mean feat, neither one of us is tall, but we both looked down on this guy. I had no idea what he did at the store, but he was definitely viably employed.
“Aren't you a good looking couple.” He said.
This was a nice thing to say, especially since we are both over 50 and neither of us consider ourselves candidates for the most beautiful people list, but if you are about a thousand years old and wear glasses thicker than paperweights, we might look pretty good.
“Actually, we're brother and sister.” I corrected him.
This is an odd thing that has happened to my brother and I all our lives. The same thing happened to my two oldest, who are only a year apart. People always mistook them for a couple and there were people in high school who wanted to date them but always assumed that they were going together and never asked either of them out. It used to infuriate them. I suppose the logical assumption is that my brother and I don't look a lot alike and neither do my two oldest kids. On the other hand, I've seen lots of married people who look amazingly like siblings. A psychiatrist might suggest that human beings are drawn to people with whom they share a superficial resemblance due to some overwhelming ego issues or something. Maybe they just find themselves devilishly attractive. The older gentleman decided to enlighten us as to why he thought we were a couple.
“Well, you would never know you were brother and sister. You seem to like each other.”
“Of course we do.” I said, somewhat shocked. I love my brother like crazy.
“Personally, I could never stand the sight of my sister.” Our new friend said with heat. “She was as deadly as a snake and looked like one too. Lots of people I have known would just as soon throw their brother or sister off a bus as look at them. I know I would.” He said this with a big smile and extreme amusement, as if he were talking about something that everyone should find hilarious and the thought was affording him no end of delight.
“You probably missed her after she was gone.” My brother assumed, since he was older than dirt and speaking of her in the past tense, she must have passed on.
“She didn't go far enough.” He snorted. “She lives in Hampden. I run into her now and then and I always take the time to stop and let her know that I still can't stand her. She likes to bare her fangs at me and remind me that she plans on outliving me so that she can dance on my grave. Fat chance of that. She's older than I am.”
Given that this gentleman, spry though he was, looked as if he could have toasted the Declaration of Independence with Benjamin Franklin, his sister must be old enough to have chatted up Moses while wandering in the wilderness. I dared to ask how old she was.
“The old bat is 92.” He sneered, spitting on the pavement. “Too old to eat solid food and too mean to die.”
This guy had to be much younger given how fit and snappy he was. He would probably outlive the hated sister easily. My brother politely asked his age.
“I'm 91 years young. She doesn't stand a chance.” He gave us a wave and headed away from the store with a definite spring in his step. OK, if youthfulness and longevity ran in the family, the contest wasn't over by a long shot.
I don't know what happened between the old guy and his sister, but it must have been epic for it to last as long as it had. I can't imagine living 90-odd years and even remembering whatever it was that made me mad in the first place. Even if I did, I probably wouldn't care anymore. My brother and I spent about 20 minutes making up outrageous stories about what happened to cause the fight to the death between this guy and his sister. We came up with some crazy scenarios that had us laughing for awhile. Mostly, we were just glad that we like each other as much as we do. Maintaining that kind of intense hatred must be exhausting. On the other hand, maybe that's what's keeping them both alive and kicking...each other.