joolee's forty

forty days. forty stories.

a sister like no other

by Jeannette Legenza

Jeanette and Joolee

As I sit here contemplating how to condense the enormity of my life with Julie into such a small space, I also find myself wondering how it is possible that my baby sister is actually turning forty. It seems like only yesterday that she arrived to bring me down from the lofty heights of first-born egocentrism.  I am told I was quite excited to have a sister and there are, indeed, cute Polaroid pictures of me holding her and looking quite happy about the whole thing.  However, I suspect I was already plotting ways to torture her and subject her to my dominion as the eldest Aurand child.

Jeanette and Joolee

As little girls, Julie was my personal playmate.  We played cowgirls and Indians (this is pre-PC) and she always had to be the Indian who ended up tied to a tree.  Later on, we played Charlie’s Angels and she had to be Sabrina because I took the coveted role of Farrah.  If we played school, I got to be the teacher.  If we played doctor, she had to be the patient.  I think you get the idea of how it went for her.  She took her revenge by trying to convince me that I must have been adopted into the family.

Julie looked up to me a lot and I never missed the chance to give her sound advice.  One time, when she couldn’t make it to the bathroom, I convinced her she should sit in a mud puddle to get herself clean.  It made sense at the time, but she had to walk the rest of the way home very wet AND covered in mud.  I also taught her about the monsters that live under your bed in the darkness.  I took great delight in racing upstairs, crawling under her bed and waiting until she was in bed with the lights out.  You can guess what happened next…

There were definitely times when we teamed up for mutual survival.  One of Mom’s favorite quickie meals was chili. I remember many times when Julie would pick out every last diced tomato and I would pick out every kidney bean so we could trade with one another.  Can you believe she used to be a very picky eater?!

During the awkward middle school and high school years, I’m afraid I was less then kind.  Full of myself, I was irritated when she wanted to tag along.  Julie, however, was not one to let that discourage her.  During a play date with my friend, in which I snubbed her and her friend, they solved the problem by wrestling us to the ground and sitting on us until we gave in.

Joolee and Jeanette in Alaska

It wasn’t until I went away to college that I started to realize she wasn’t so bad.  In fact, I actually missed her!  I missed giggling until we cried over nothing in particular.  I missed having my biggest fan to cheer me on.  I missed playing Pictionary with a partner who knew what I was drawing before I could put the pencil on the paper.  I missed Julie so much that I convinced her to live with me in Albany, NY during my first year of medical school.  That year helped to cement the friendship we have today.  That was also the year she decided to join the Peace Corps.  Since then, I have met up with her at various locations around the world.  From Italy, to Colorado, to the Appalachian Trail, there is always another adventure waiting for us.

So Julie (or Joolee), I feel blessed to call you my sister.  You are my best friend and my hero in life.  You’ve always been there for me and I’m glad I finally figured it out.  I can’t imagine how empty life would be without you.  When I see the joy you bring to others, the patience you show to children, or the zest you have for life, I know I want to be just like you when I grow up.


One comment on “a sister like no other

  1. pachoulijoolee
    April 8, 2012

    You WERE adopted, Jeanette! Nobody else anywhere in our family apple trees is blond, and neither Mom nor Dad were left-handed or blue-eyed! 🙂 And please don’t feel bad about excluding me in middle school…remember the time Dad took us for an airplane ride and Deena got sick? And Dad sent me to help her get cleaned up, while he enlisted you and Joan to clean up the plane? Heheh…sweet, sweet revenge. Thank you so so much, Jeanette, for being a best friend as much as a big sister…I so appreciate that I can talk to you about anything and you never say “You did WHAT?!?” and you are always gentle and kind, even when I’m waking you at 5am with a call from Bolivia cuz Lib and John have been feeling wretched for a week, or phoning you at work to solicit medical advice for a whimpering colleague in Antarctica, or when you answer the doorbell to find a bloody or feverish neighborhood kid on your stoop. I always brag about you every chance I get, and I can’t wait to see you…on April 29th. Yippee! I’m the luckiest sister in the woooorld!

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2012 by in stories.

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