Ruth, a.k.a. Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian and has had amazing travel experiences.
My Little Sister
I remember when I was about ten years old, my mother and dad presented me with a new baby sister. Her name was Janet Marie. She shared my room with me. Her little crib was right next to my bed. I don’t remember her being any trouble and I enjoyed holding and playing with her. As I grew older, I remember babysitting the neighbor kids more than staying with Janet. Perhaps because I received 50 cents an hour and mom stayed at home.
She was there again as a young toddler, having grown a large tumor on one of her ears. It needed to be removed or it may grow larger and cause more damage. The day of the operation, there was an earthquake right during her operation that turned the lights off temporarily. Luckily, she is still here.
She was there when my mother was attacked in the middle of the night by an intruder who had scoped out the neighborhood. The police informed us that he had been watching houses and kept track of whose husbands worked at night. My Dad worked two jobs and my mother was left alone until late at night. Her screams woke me up in a panic and I was paralyzed not knowing what to do. I don’t remember Janet waking up, but that bad man had used her high chair to prop open the back kitchen door so he could escape quickly. He had visited our room that night leaving muddy footprints on the white fluffy rug as evidence of the rain that poured outside. This event haunted my mother for years.
Had a Bad Day!
She was there again when she was about ten. I had taken her to the Days of ’47 rodeo since my husband told me he had to work that day. She was there when I discovered that he had been lying to me and was cheating on me with another girl and was actually at the same rodeo. We had been married less than two years (for what I thought was forever). She was too young to understand the depth of despair I felt, nor did anyone else seem to.
Again, Janet was there (after I received extensive therapy) when a boyfriend and I took her to Disneyland in LA. I’m not sure if she remembers that time since my friend and I seemed to only have eyes for one another. She was always such a good girl and never complained as we waited in the horrendous lines to get on the rides.
Move to the South Pacific
Being years apart in age, it was difficult to stay close when my second husband took me far away from our home to live in the islands of the Pacific. We tried to stay in touch, sending letters and pictures back and forth. Eventually, she would visit the islands and stay with us for a few weeks.
I admire Janet for her life choices. She has raised four handsome sons, and lived on a farm with her husband. Her life has been as foreign to her as mine ended up for me in the islands. Her husband likes farming, taxidermy and living in a tiny town where the water smells like sulfur. They have had all kinds of animals including miniature horses, goats, cows, chickens, etc. Then she and her husband fostered three young girls who had been very abused as children. She fell in love with all of them and couldn't let them go. They decided to adopt them. That is the kind of person Janet is.
Life Came Between Us
I’m not sure when we drew apart, but we were both so busy with our individual families and lives. She is fonder of my youngest sister who is closer to her in age. I have not been the best big sister, but I still love her just the same. It seems that we were closer friends when we were much farther apart. When my husband and I retired, we returned to my home state and I have had a rough time adjusting. It has brought back many memories that I tried hard to forget.
Appreciation for a Good Example
Thank you, Janet for being such a good example for me. I know we have some things in common, but It is a challenge to live up to your expectations of a big sister.
Just so you are aware, in the Tongan culture, the older sister is called the “fahu”. She is highly respected in the culture just because she is the oldest girl. She can request anything she wants from her siblings - even their children if she is so inclined. Don’t worry, I have enough of my own. She also has the responsibility of taking care of all the weddings in the family. Thank goodness I was not expected to live that culture even though I married into a Tongan family.
So glad you were always there, Janet!
© 2019 Elayne