Hearing voices from another room


Just as I woke up, I could hear their voices coming from out in the other room. They were a little muffled, because the door was shut, making it pitch dark. What were they talking about? I could tell there were only two of them up this early. I didn’t know what time it was because I didn’t have a flashlight to see my watch. The one window in the room had drapes over it, so no help there. The room was a place to store a lot of things, as well as having a chair that opened up into a bed for me to sleep in. Soon, I thought I smelled toast, or was something burning? I didn’t want to get up and check. I just wanted to lie there, be comfortable and warm, and listen to them talking to each other. That’s what I did when I was a kid. I was having a flashback about how it felt listening to them in the mornings. I remember not wanting to get out of bed, mostly because it was usually cold. I liked listening to what they talked about as well as wondering if I would ever be as grown up as they were. How many years have passed since I last had this experience? It had to be a lot, because I was only in the first and second grades when they were in high school. I knew these two voices as well as I know the back of my hand. It’s because they were my two older sisters. And along with my two younger sisters, who weren’t up yet, all five of us were together for a weekend at our oldest sister Ginny’s house.

Other than their morning conversations that I could hear from my room, I don’t have many memories of the older ones because we never played together. But, in the last several years, we have made up for that, because we have been playing cards whenever we can all get together. Growing up, there was always a lot of differences between us. One example is that they were wearing lipstick when I had just started going to elementary school.

Now as I listen to them, I wonder if they ever listened to me. Did they wonder how I was doing in school? I don’t recall back then ever having any “one-on-one” conversations with either one of them. Would they still make fun of me because my hair was always such a mess? As a kid, someone nicknamed me “Mopsy” and I feel like it still fits. I always knew I didn’t fit into their world. After all, I was just a kid.”

The above words were written as one of my writing exercises. It wasn’t timed. I wrote in longhand, without stopping, and completely filled two pages of notebook paper. It was interesting to read what came out on those pages. (You might want to try that yourself sometime.) I never thought I was a problem to any of my siblings. I always tried to be as independent as possible. Because I am the middle child of seven, (we have two brothers) I have read a lot about the middle child being different from the other children in a family. One study found that no one ever pays much attention to a middle child. That was a surprise! But as I look back, there is some truth to it. I knew what my jobs were around the house, so I did them without being told. I had to do the dishes, help clean the house, keep my clothes in good order, keep an eye on the younger ones in the house, and be in bed by 9 p.m. It’s a wonder they didn’t call me “bossy” instead of “Mopsy.”

But, sorry to say, spending weekends at Ginny’s is a thing of the past. She died two years ago this very day that I am writing this. I wonder what she thought of me when I was a kid. I wonder if I had been a problem to her during that period of time we were all living in the same house. If no one was paying any attention to me, maybe that’s why I was always reading a book, or spending time at friends’ houses. I started this writing both as an exercise in filling two notebook pages without stopping, as well writing a few words about Ginny. I’m glad that, as adults, my sisters and I were able to play all those card games, which were usually held on each of our birthdays. In fact, on her last birthday, two years ago when she turned 91, we went up to her house and played two card games, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. That was when I wrote her a song to the tune of “Jingle Bells” beginning with the words: “Playing Cards, Playing Cards, Playing Cards today….” In her last days, as she was growing thinner and thinner, she started looking a lot like our mom. She always had the job of being everyone’s big sister. It doesn’t seem like very long ago, when I was just a kid, who was wishing I could be as grown up as she was. In fact, right now, it seems like it was yesterday.


By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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