Carol Marlene Zent left, June Pauline Zent right, photo
A SPECIAL SISTER BOND
An original pencil drawing on linen board 22×28 inches by June Pauline Zent
This drawing features my daughters Holly and Addie but while I was working on it I thought about my own sister and the special bond between us. We lost our mother when she was eight and I was seven and our father had left long before she died. Her life was incredibly hard because she had to work two jobs to make a living and she was not able to have us live with her.
She paid the local children’s home in Green Acres, Florida to care for two girls who were then three and two years old.I can only imagine the emotional pain of being separated from your children although she came to visit and to take us out of that hell hole every chance that she got. She never knew the horrors that we were subjected to because we were afraid to tell her. We knew that we had to go back every time she took us out.
But that’s the subject of another post. This one is about the incredibly close bond that was formed between us. Truthfully she looked after me as only a devoted sister could. She was always at my side trying to keep her impulsive sister out of trouble. ” Watch out he’s coming! or Don’t say that , you will get your head pushed down under water in that dark concrete sink.” Wherever I was she was not far behind.
On my first day of school she was already in the second grade which were both housed in the same room. I wanted to sit with her but the teacher had other plans.I began to cry and was warned to stop. “Sob”. I was rewarded with a spanking on my first day of school! However, I also learned to write my name on the same day. That began my long romance with the pencil, the visual arts, and the power of words.
We sang duets in church and we were good. Music and poetry was the legacy our mother left us. She sang the harmony and I the melody. We both only had to hear a song once before recalling every word and melody. Singing songs in my head and I am sure in hers was the way to face horrable events. When family came to tell us that our mother had died she sobbed uncontrollably. I was mute. My head could only hold one thought, “We are leaving this place.” For years I hated myself for this reaction but who would not be thrilled to leave this house of horrors. Besides I did not believe or know what death meant.
Even when I saw her lowered into the ground I did not accept that she was gone. She was so beautiful and alive looking. Later I pretended that she had run away and was the movie star Frances Langford. She looked like our mother and had the same first name. We both spent many hours viewing her movies in the local theater.
There were many more hard times to come but through it all my sister was my rock and still is. I owe her many apologies; like her comic book collection that I smuggled out of the house and gave away. If she had them now she would be a millionaire! I am sorry for all of the clothes I sneaked out and changed into that were hers and forbidden. She should have punched me for the many transgressions like the time I punched her because someone lied about my status and said that she told them. I should have trusted her and not some nameless girl who was out to make trouble. There is a deep apology owed for holding her in a scissors grip around her stomach almost cracking her ribs when we were wrestling. Oh, there were so many, many wrongs that I regret.
But there were also special happy times like singing I’ve been Working on the Railroad and other hits? that we belted out while in the kitchen making the dish washing go faster. The lemonade stands were a favorite. We staged dress up theater productions for neighborhood kids and played elaborate classic games like Kick the Can and Hide and Go Seek. Not just the traditional versions, we covered several city blocks with ten kids scattered hiding.
I should mention that my sister was perfection itself: always exactly dressed and groomed, punctual to a fault, a figure that made local boys swoon and me envy, and top-notch grades in school. I was a frequent embarrassment who wore jeans exclusively until the teen years, played football with the boys, skipped school, and was always late for important events. The family liked to describe me thus: ” June is funny” and they didn’t mean funny ha ha; they meant funny strange. I defended myself with my fist not nails, in other words a tomboy. How did she put up with me?
Through all of this non conformity she stood beside me and only scolded in private. Woe be unto anyone who said an ugly word about her; they would be forever on my s… list. We were orphans except for our grandparents where we were finally given a real home. We bonded together from the beginning weathering every storm as one.
For most of our adult years we have lived apart in distance but not in heart. That bond has grown stronger over the years. Each knows when the other has problems even over the miles. It’s usual for her to call and say, “Okay, what’s the matter?” and I have the same message reception with her. In some ways I believe a sister’s bond and love is the strongest of all and can only be broken by the death of both. So here’s to my wonderful sister; I will love you always!