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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
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My Sister
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She's 6'1" tall but has always had good posture, unlike many tall women. So to look at, she's something of an Amazon. Great, wide-open brown eyes, straight brown hair, and still a pretty tough cookie, she regularly beat the living hell out of me when we were kids, something she apologized for years later.

But youth was not easy for her, actually much worse than it was for me. She very much wanted our father to love her, I think. It's possible he did, to the extent he was capable of it. She told me not long ago that after she was an adult she used to have long talks with him about all sorts of philosophical matters. But when she was a child, he was anything but kind to her, quite the opposite. She was the first-born and he had tried to get our mother to have an abortion when he learned there was going to be a baby.

As a schoolgirl, Sandra was pretty miserable a lot of the time. She was so bright they advanced her from the middle of second grade to the middle of the third grade, so she was always a year younger than her schoolmates. But it was more a matter of cliquishness and such matters as clothes, which are so important to young girls. She was at the age of maximum vulerability to such things right when our family fortunes were near their lowest ebb, so she was consigned to hand-me-downs on occasion. It generated a life-long aversion; for many years she has refused to put on clothes that have belonged to someone else.

When she got to high school, she started to open up. This was in part because the girls who had been her chief nemeses had gone to a different high school, so Sandra could cultivate a whole new set of friends and acquaintances. She got very interested in dramatics and was almost always in some play or other. And she was always an honor student.

When she went away to college she continued to maintain very high grades, and in a way this set her up for a great struggle many years later, when having raised two sons and a daughter, she started law school at the University of Minnesota. She didn't get a lot of support from the family, but as always she was very determined. She worked her butt off, and it was distinct affront to her pride that her first-term law grades were only a couple points above passing. She was used to getting all A's and this was not in the plan. But she bounced back, took an extra year to finish up and for several years practiced law before deciding that it was not what she really wanted to do.

She's been married to Victor since 1953, raised her three kids, cares for her grandchildren, and has not had it easy doing any of that. No longer a kid, she's coping quite well, I think. A couple years ago, knees shot from degenerative arthritis, she had them both replaced in one operation. I can't imagine it. Since then, she's had one hip replaced, too.

She's a very good person, but climbing out of unhappiness, which I'm glad to say I think she has now accomplished, was a very protracted and arduous chore. One thing she's got in spades: grit!

In the years since our mother died, Sandra and I have drawn quite a bit closer, which seems to me a very good thing. Our brother had significant health problems, and we talk a lot about that, because whatever our lives have been, they were easier than his.

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