When we left off, I was trying to uncover the truth about the depth of my sister Jan’s feelings about my untimely arrival as it corresponded with the unfortunate departure of her promised bedroom. I was doing this by getting straight into her 13 year-old psyche by way of her 1969 diary she had miraculously saved and which had now, after her death, made its way into my hands.
Here is the entry five days after my birth:
“April 4, 1969 Friday
We ate supper at Frieda’s house. I liked everything very much except I thought that the beans were terrible. The chicken tasted OK but the skin was cruddy.
Well, tomorrow’s the day Jean Carol (my little sister) and my mom come home from the hospital.
I am going to kiss my gerbil good night now. Bye bye.
April 5, 1969 Saturday
The baby is kinda ugly on the face because of the birth dots. And the belly button had that cord still sticking out. Why, it’s enough to make you barf.
Well, tomorrow’s Easter. Boy, that is going to be cruddy. I don’t want to go to Sunday School. As of now I don’t know what I’m going to do about that.
I just love to hold the baby. We are not having an Easter this year.
April 6, 1969 Sunday
Happy Easter, Diary.
Today was happy with Jean around. I even got out of church. But on Easter of all days! Thomas will kill me!”
Still no mention of the bedroom. She doesn’t seem to be hating me too much. Loves to hold me, even if I’m ugly and the umbilical cord makes her want to toss her cookies. And bonus points for getting her out of Sunday School. Good, good. Maybe she’s forgetting about the bedroom.
Another interesting point: I had always been told I had been born on Easter Sunday. Clearly this was not so!
The diary continues with talk of her crush on a boy named JOEL!!!!! (caps and exclamation points left unedited), what she will wear to school, how her teacher is cruddy, her grades, how many days left of school, how cruddy her life is, how fat she is and how she is going to go on a diet and exercise more, and how she wished she could get out of catechism. Barely mention of me at all except for company coming on April 27 for my baptism.
“May 12, 1969 Monday
I hate that stupid baby. All she does is cry, cry, cry, cry, cry, cry. And that stupid father of mine does not change the diapers. He always says he just changed them. Well, let him be stuck with a crying baby.”
By June 5th, the last day of school, she seems to have come to terms with the bedroom situation. In a list of goals and plans for her summer, she lists:
“1. My main goal is to go on my diet. (No sweets) but 1 dessert a day.
2. No no don’t chew nails
3. Plenty of exercise
4. Last but not least I have lots of plans for my bedroom upstairs…
June 8, 1969 Sunday
Dad took me to Arlans to get some of that paper stuff in a wood texture. It looks so cool. One side is already put on. I plan on putting a sheet on my dresser.
June 9, 1969 Monday
I got up in the morning and I put paper on a lot of that bed top. I made a frame for my Jesus picture and I also made a pencil holder. I made my garbage can pink. I spent almost 2 hours on that dumb thing and it got all smeared. I also painted the – – no, I washed the walls also upstairs.
June 10, 1969 Tuesday
I babysat almost all the afternoon while my mom painted upstairs.
June 11, 1969 Wednesday
My mom found some real pretty pink contact paper. I don’t know how I am going to put it on my dresser. There is not that much there. Because I put a lot on my jewelry box and I decorated my light switch real pretty. Today I also put some on my window. We are going to get some special paper for the card table. My Jesus picture I made looks real real cool up there.
June 23, 1969 Monday
Now I am all moved upstairs for good. I just love it up here. Now I have more privacy and my ma’s not up here to chase me in bed right away and when I bring my friends up here it’s a lot nicer and again I say more privacy. We can talk more openly of our view points and goof off a lot more.”
So, things seemed to end happily after all with the bedroom.
But then there was that second thing my sister liked to bring up: that she had to take care of me when I was a newborn while our mom was in the hospital (for weeks on end). How much truth was in that?
“July 6, 1969 Sunday
My mom had to go to the hospital and I got the job of taking care of the baby. Oh no I will be so tied up. Oh well, my mom won’t be back for maybe 4 or 5 days so I suppose that I’ll just have to suffer and make the best of things…”
To be continued…