Our two daughters look friendly enough in this school photo, taken when Louise was 7 and Jane aged 6 There was only 17 months between them. Jane was 6 weeks premature and not expected to live through the night. However, she managed to struggle through her Respiratory Disease of the Newborn and even learned to play the flute.
When they were little, they were inseparable, adored each other. The cracks began to appear when they became teenagers.
‘If she’s going, I’m not going!’, was the response to anything more than an expedition to go shopping for school uniform. It was even their answer when we discussed our summer holidays, though for that they had no choice. For us, summer holidays were family holidays. At first our trips abroad included the boys, who both girls got on with, though the two middle children were closest.
Our daughters’ teenage years were a nightmare. Louise got the teenage sulks first, recovered and became sweet and loving, only to be followed immediately by Jane’s teenage angst.
At UNI, Louise, our elder daughter, read Psychology, took the TEFL Course and became a Foreign Language teacher in the Basque Country, while Jane read Physics and is a Professor of Physics in Switzerland. They met rarely as adults – we could put up one family, not two – so they usually came to London to see us separately. As adults, all four children only met for important birthdays. For my 80th birthday the six of us met up in a hotel in Malaga.
Jane is about to turn 54 and is recovering from a total gastrectomy for stomach cancer while Louise is 55. They are close once more – at least in spirit. Louise, who writes course books on teaching English as a foreign language, has retired as Director of Education after 32 years, to go freelance. Jane’s husband needed to have surgery, so Louise has flown to Switzerland to be with her at this worrying time.
I was one of three daughters, no sons, and we were each 6 years apart, so I was never very close to my elder sister, and my middle sister left to live on a Kibbutz when I was a teenager. I wish I’d had a sister closer in age, but I suppose I could have been at odds with her in my teenage years as were my daughters, and I might never have made it up.
Interestingly, as far as I could see, the boys always got on and now at 61 and nearly 59, they are very close, working in the same district, in similar fields, and meeting for coffee or lunch now and again.
Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.