Original writings by Adrienne Nater

My Sister Joanie 
The Power of Wishes
Letter Dated May 2010

Dear Joanie,

Sharing memories:

Make it a girl, please make it a girl. I want a sister. Please God, I want a sister.

I said this every day, every hour, every moment since mom told me there would be a baby coming to our family.

I wanted a sister. When mother was taken to the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to go along, left at home like an outcast, I ran down the street.

Please God, make it a girl. Then the rush of guilt. They wanted a boy. I ran even faster, it was April warm, God and the trees may be listening but no one else; past Mrs. Rose’s house, the Bruckner’s, the Feinstein’s. The ugly dog that followed me was an adoptee, a white English Bull Dog, Bonnie.

God, are you there? I’ll change my mind. Let them have the boy. But I don’t… I want a sister. "Please God, I’ve changed my mind, give them a boy. Forget my pleading, make it a boy."

Too late. I got my sister. They would have to wait for their cherished David, or whatever he would be named.

You were my nine year old birthday present, born April 20th three days before my birthday. I would really be a big sister. Well, I wasn’t that big in statue, but I could be somebody to someone.

You were placed into my arms. You were bald. As you got older you became a beautiful blond with fair eyes, and creamy completion. We were a contrast right from the get-go.

At first, little sister I was taught to change your diapers, feed you your bottle, breast feeding wasn’t in the cards for mother, either by something nature prevented or by vanity, who knows?

You slept in my room; a crib. If you awakened in the night, I lifted you out, feed you a bottle and we snuggled together. You were my every one. There was a downside. You wet all night. Even with momma’s double diapering you leaked. I would just make my bed, covering up the wet. Laundry day, I stripped my bed, displaying uncommon responsibility after you came along, loaded the washer without being ordered.

 

You stood in your crib, bouncing, calling me by what you heard or thought you heard; Adrienne was Abian. You learned my name as your first word, maybe because mother yelled it frequently, Adrienne; get the trash out, Adrienne, get the dog fed. Adrienne, clean the birds, Adrienne, water, weed, mow the lawn, Adrienne, do this, do that all of which I did ― eventually. But when you called Abian from you crib, I was there. We went on stroller walks, we played in the sprinklers, we took your first steps together; we ate at the dining room table, you in the high chair close to me. You had your first solid food from the spoon in my hand; we bounced together in the bunk beds. You rode in my bike basket. You were a feminine sort. Not like me. But we were inseparable.

Do you remember the time we went to the Doheny estate where Daddy had arranged to play tennis on Sundays? I got to go if mother wanted to sleep late. You wanted to come along, I wasn’t too sure. This was my private place.

The Doheny property stretched for miles and miles. The grand house was at the top of a mountain. It was like a castle. I could go swimming or spend my time hiking into this wilderness while Daddy was playing tennis down below.

So you came along. OK little two and a half year old sister, you want to come along share my time, my activities. Let’s go on a hike.

The trail up was just a long walk, but then we went into the forest. You got scared. I held your hand, but the downside was too steep for you. You were ash white with fear, there were your tears that scared me but you wouldn’t leave my side. I knew what to do…loop our belts together to make a lifeline. We sat with our butts on the ground, scooted; worked our way to the bottom of this mountain. I was scared that you would tell that I had taken you into this perilous situation. Not you. You never ever told on me.

Our nine year difference took its natural toll. By the time you were nine I had left home, trying to be an adult.

We were of such different natures. We had had such different beginnings. You were the social one, I was the loner.

I never asked for anything, just hoped to be asked; never wanting to hear the dreaded NO. You were the great charmer, I envied your technique when I visited home, I would listen from the next room:

Daddy, I need a new dress. Here’s $20.00. Then you come home with no dress. Where’s your new dress? I didn’t buy the one I wanted Daddy. Why not? Well, you gave me $20.00 and the dress I wanted was $25.00 and I knew not to want a dress that was more than the amount you gave me. Joanie, you’re so sweet to your Daddy. Here’s the extra $5.00 go get the dress.

Or, the dining decisions: You would call from your boy friend’s house, inquiring what was for dinner. "Would you mind if I ate dinner here at Jerry’s?" Since dinner was not a pleasant situation after our brother reached the dinner table age you managed to escape the situation. I didn’t know how to do that kind of sweet avoidance.

You married not too long after Daddy died, had a little boy, moved to San Francisco so your husband could attend Medical School. Remember my visit? You lived in an apartment building that was designed like a bowling alley, with rooms on either side; the kitchen was at the back. You had not had time to straighten up. You sent me out on a tour of your design; you had a baby to watch and cleaning to finish. This was a switch. You had been Daddy’s princess; I had been mother’s slave. You rejected her stern routine and I had succumbed to it.

But then the years tumbled by. You divorced, remarried and moved to McMinnville Oregon; had two more children; your husband a successful attorney.

I finally got my life settled, living with my love out in the country.

Mother was using all of her resources to get on, but poorly. I couldn’t keep up the trips to Los Angeles. She wasn’t safe.

The greatest part of you came forth. You had mother with you in her last years. I can’t begin to tell you what that meant to her and to me.

She was safe with you.

Our lives have taken different courses. Our love hasn’t. We’re sisters of the best kind.