She was 20 years older than me and the oldest of us kids. There were 4 boys in between, the three oldest just a few years younger than her. The last boy was about 10 years younger than the rest of the boys and I was six years behind him. I think I was one of those “You’re What!” moments.
I don’t remember much interaction between us from my early childhood. I think she was grown and out on her own by then. Her daughter, Candy, is 5 years younger than me, so I guess Audrey was married when I was very young.
She was mother’s helper in her younger years. She babysat the boys, helped with the housework and led a life very remote from mine. I was a spoiled kid who often was treated like an only child. . At the age of 16 I could ride horses and make cocoa and toast. I had dried dishes one night and that was the extent of my home making experience.
My mother died of cancer on my 16th birthday. I was sent to live with my sister several weeks before mom died. This was putting me in a whole new world.
Up to now all my clothes had been hand me downs from cousins who were much heavier than me. I did have one blouse and skirt that my mother had made for me when I first entered Junior High. Aside from that the only new things I ever had were underwear and socks. My jeans came from the Salvation Army, but I didn’t care. Of course, in those days (the 50’s) girls had to wear skirts or dresses to school
The first week I was at my sister’s she went thru my clothes and discarded over half of them. I can remember being scared I would only have one or maybe two things to wear to school. The week before school started (this would be my junior year in high school) She took me clothes shopping! I had never done this before. She even let me pick out what I wanted. I still remember the dark rose pink wool skirt with the matching flower printed cotton blouse. I felt like Cinderella! One of my brothers gave me $20 to buy a new coat for school. I had never had a brand-new coat and fell in love with this huge grey thing. Grey is NOT my color, but I was so entranced with the fullness and the newness of the coat, my sister let me buy it. I wore it for years.
One of the things I so admired about my sister was her patience and consideration in teaching me things. “Let me show you an easier way to do that” She’d say and then show me how to make a bed or iron or sweep. Never once did she make me feel stupid or ashamed because I lacked the experience or knowledge to do simple household chores. I don’ think I ever told her “Thank you” I should have. This was how she addressed each lesson I had to learn.
I had very little discipline, regulation or supervision before this move. Meals were not set as to time or content. My mom was a good very plain cook. If we didn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it. I think the only things store bought were flour, sugar and turkey for thanksgiving. I had been allowed to pick and choose what and when I ate.
At my sister’s this changed dramatically. My sister did not enjoy cooking. She was a good cook, but it was not one of her favorite things to do. So, dinner went on the table at 6 every night. You were to be washed up and in your chair at that time. Come in late and you went without dinner. I did that once and only once. You did not get to snack on anything later either. You just went hungry until breakfast.
You ate what was on your plate. My sister made this great vegetable soup. All these wonderful cut up veggies with hamburger and the broth was delicious. The problem for me was that I had never eaten cauliflower before and decided I didn’t like it. So, I carefully began pushing the cauliflower off to the side, not planning to eat it. My sister reached over, picked up my bowl, “You must not be hungry. You are excused”. Another hungry night. From then on, I’d cut the cauliflower up into tiny pieces and swallow them whole so I wouldn’t taste it.
As an adult, I finally learned to enjoy cauliflower, but I think it resented my early boycott and gives me terrible gas and stomach problems whenever I eat it.