For the past 30 years, and really, even before, from my earliest memories at the age of five, my sister, Ruby, who is 20 years my senior, has been my mother-figure.
Dear to me, are the fond memories of my childhood. Oh, how she would dote on me, sewing for me, beautiful “Sunday” dresses, with embroidered strawberries and bits of lace, and buying me shiny, black-patent-Baby-Janes. She called me her “papoose.” My beautiful sister Ruby was intellectual, brilliant and articulate.
She worked at the Bank of Nova Scotia while attending Teacher’s college in the West Indies. Eventually, she left the Caribbean for the USA, where she married her “base-boy” Raymond whom she met while he was stationed in Trinidad. She would refer to her romance with Raymond as a fairy-tale “boy meets girl on tropical island” love-story.
Even while across the ocean, my sister would send me my Christmas box - a great big cardboard box - for which I waited with great anticipation. There was always, the “blue gum”, a gum that even today, my children love, that was only available in the States. Inside that box, there were also other American candies, potato chips, peanut butter, clothes, shoes, story books, and crafts. Ruby was a brilliant artist, enchanted by oil and canvas. She also took the time to write recipes on Caribbean Cuisine, depicting the magic of fire and rewrote Folklore of the Caribbean with artistic rendition.
Shortly after the birth of her third son, Ruby fell into the abyss of dark depression associated with a chemical imbalance. She struggled with depression for 6 long years, even living on the streets of New York City but when it seemed that all hope was lost, she found the right medication and the light turned back on! Once again, she lived in the simple magnificence of life and although she continued to struggle with bouts of depression throughout her life, I had my sister back. When I got married Ruby designed and sewed my wedding gown. In addition, a replica was fitted for my barbie doll, both of which are still cherished today, cushioned in a box of velvet.
When I visited, I would smell the aroma of freshly baked bread from the bottom of the Braeside Lane driveway. Ruby, in her willingness to please and for her joy of giving, was sure to have a “present” awaiting me, wrapped of course, placed upon my bed. Fresh flowers would adorn the guest room. We would go for long walks in the sun and have poignant conversations, speaking of love and friendships, goals and memories. We would burst into deep, loud, hearty laughter of our crazy family antics. She would always say, “Happiness comes from within, it is not found, it’s created.”
I am happy that my sister and I created a mother-daughter love. It will be just that way to the end of time. Even though she no longer has the ability to carry on a conversation with me, she knows who I am, her papoose-baby, Vicenta.