Happy Birthday to My Sister!!!!!

It’s my sister’s birthday! She is 38 today, 9 months pregnant, and absolutely miserable! Not that her life sucks, just that she’s 9 months pregnant and it’s high summer and apparently that means everything hurts all the time.

In 1983 when my sister was born, all of midwestern America was in the middle of a record setting heat wave and drought. Before they brought their tiny baby home, my Dad went out and bought The Last Window Air Conditioner in Chicago, a massive thing that they plunked in the front room window and then lined the hallway with fans to bring the cool air through the rest of the apartment. Luckily, the heat broke just as my sister started crawling, because a row of fans along the floor is not crawling-baby-safe.

Chicago beaches the month she was born

We had another hot summer when I was one and my sister was 3. Our parents bought a little inflatable pool and set it up on their back deck and stripped us naked and plunked us in it until our little baby core temperatures went down.

When we were growing up, it felt like the hottest part of the summer always came while we were visiting the lake house for two weeks with Grandma and Grandpa. We solved this problem by just living in the lake as much as possible. One of the best summers was the year we attached a rope from one end of the pier to the other so we could just float in an inner tube doing nothing and hold on to the rope so we didn’t float away.

The best inner tubes were the actual inner tubes, old inner sections of tractor tires, the rubber smelled like rubber and the big inflation tube stuck on your leg, but they were sooooooo big and strong.

It must have been even hotter when we visited our other grandparents, they lived down south by St. Louis, but it never felt hot there. They had a huge yard with an apple tree we could climb, and lots and lots of mud, and a screened in porch with a cool concrete floor you could lay on when you got overheated, and a big basement full of weird things my our grandmothers canned apple sauce, and old clown equipment. There was one time we spent all day playing “clay” (that is, digging up mud and making things out of it and leaving them to bake in the sun) and when the adults came out and saw us, Poppie just scooped us up and carried us inside and dumped us right in the big utility room sinks to rinse us off, clothes and all.

See, Missouri has red clay soil like this. So if you use your fingernails and dig deep enough, you get the good stuff that you can mold into all kinds of shapes.

After college we started a tradition of sororal summer road trips. Those were the best, because we could be in our nice air conditioned cool car, and then walk around and do stuff until we got tired, and then go to a nice air conditioned motel. We drove through Missouri, and down to Memphis, and all the way through Maine, all on different trips. We saw lots of cool stuff (Bytheville, Arkansas, best barbecue you will ever eat and a greyhound bus museum!) but the best times were always just riding in the car singing along to our songs (luckily, we are equally tone deaf), or sitting in the motel room at night watching movies together.

See this line of cars? Totally legitimate, best BBQ I’ve ever had.

Since the almost simultaneous arrive of The Nephew and The Pandemic, I don’t think we’ve seen each other in a summer? The closest is the May before The Nephew arrived when I went out for a last minute “you are depressed and lonely and pregnant, I will come and hang with you for a weekend” trip. But it wasn’t really summer then, it was just Pleasant. But now, summer trip time again!

Just like 38 years ago, my sister is in a house getting ready for the arrival of a Tiny Baby in the middle of extreme heat. I can’t remember the last time I saw a photo of Nephew in clothes, apparently he just goes around morning to night in a diaper and nothing else. I imagine Tiny Baby will do the same until it cools down. And they will set up a series of fans to draw the heat, and the Tiny Baby will wear the same sunhat my sister wore, which his big brother also wore, to keep the sun out of his tiny eyes, and 38 years from now my sister will think (just like my mother is thinking today) “wow, that was a hard and wonderful time when the sun blazed brighter than ever before”.


9 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to My Sister!!!!!

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