Friday, 20 April 2012

My Unknown Sister

Her name was Roxie Jean and she was born April 8, 1960.  She was a breech birth in the days when that was a problem.  Today, her birth would be a Caesarean section and she would be my big sister.

            I often wonder what life would have been like if she had lived—what would it feel like to be the second child, rather than the first one?  My two younger sisters and I couldn’t be more dissimilar if we tried, so Roxie would probably be doing something completely different from all of us.  Once, when the three of us were scattered south to Calgary, north to Edmonton and east to Regina, my mother was heard to exclaim, “If Roxie had lived, she would probably have moved to Vancouver!” 

            For me, Roxie has always been a shadowy presence in my life.  No doubt she was more palpable for my parents.  Even 30 years later, Dad couldn’t talk about her without crying.  He had felt the heavy responsibility of organizing the funeral of his first child.  Mom wasn’t out of hospital when the funeral took place and must have always felt like she missed a significant ritual.

            For my part, I was cast in the role of beloved first-surviving child.  My father, a great fan of babies, looks absolutely besotted with me in the early photographs of the two of us.   He loved spending time with babies, his own and other peoples’.  Young mothers in the church he attended got used to having fussy infants scooped out of their arms to go spend some time with “Uncle” Harry.  How he would have loved to raise that first little girl.

            Mom enjoyed us more as adults—I wonder what things she and Roxie would have discussed over a cup of coffee?  What interests would they have shared?  Would Roxie also have been a reader and a writer?  [There’s a strong possibility of that since all three surviving daughters all are to one extent or another].

            Although I never knew my sister, she influenced my life profoundly.  Happy birthday to my big sister Roxie.

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