Sibling Rivalry

Do we really have to keep her?

“Five days later we went home but soon wished we were back in the hospital. Cathy was upset and did not like the attention being given to the new baby and that first night was almost hysterical. Russell and Mama put her in the car and drove almost to Minter City trying to quiet her down.

Please don't leave me in here with my sister.

“Mary Carol was a good baby and content to just stay in her bed and play a lot. We had made the mistake of spoiling Cathy by picking her up every time she cried and had learned a little before Mary Carol came along. Also this time we had both Georgia and Paralee to help, but Georgia was afraid of tiny babies since she had never had children and would not pick her up until she was three months old.

Cathy, Georgia and me, 1955

“One day I came home from a quick trip to the grocery store (I wouldn’t dare stay gone but a few minutes since I knew Georgia would not pick her up). When I got home she was just beaming and said, ‘I did it. She was crying, and I just couldn’t leave her in the bed.”

Cathy’s three-year-old meltdown remains the gold standard for sibling rivalry in this family, told and retold, but I’m sure there was nothing funny about it at the time. Something about the tight little world of parents with their first and only child is so manageable, so secure, so perfect. And then a stranger breaks the bubble. And all thoughtful parents must look around and wonder “What have we done?” So I find Cathy’s reaction perfectly normal and rational. I begged for a baby brother for many years and was always met with a brisk headshake from Sara and Russell. No waythey were going to rock that boat again. As soon as I crossed that threshold on East Adams and Cathy went into her infamous all-night tantrum, I was destined to be the caboose of the Criss family.

Better days.

Of course, I don’t remember that day that Georgia first picked me up. I just remember that she had me tightly in her formidable grip until she died 37 years later. More to come.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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2 Responses to Sibling Rivalry

  1. Sharon says:

    I just found your blog and absolutely love it. I lived my early years in Lexington and then moved near Memphis, so I get to relive both through the blog. Thanks!

    • sec040121 says:

      Thanks, Sharon. We go through Lexington frequently on our way to Jackson, and obviously the early blog postings have a lot of Holmes County connections. A lovely part of the world.

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