Not one thing or the other

My sister had not yet been gone a year when her blue glass baking pan shattered. Like a grenade going off, it sent big and little shards of glass all over the stove top and floor. What a perfect way for her to appear, I thought. During food prep, of course, with violence, of course, and narrowly missing injuring me. So much for the sentimentality of a delicious roasted chicken prepared in an inherited pan — Pyrex, by the way.

Then there was that time in LA when one of her large paintings came loose and dropped like a guillotine to the couch below. Both boys were there, my brother, me — the entire surviving William Mallon bloodline. Dramatic, scary, and inescapably about her. A signature move, in other words. Nobody was hurt.

But she was an excellent cook, gave generously at Christmas even when she had no money, and she was a wizard with plants. Her windowsills were always lush with them. She knew when to pinch and cut them and when to leave them alone. She knew how to propagate new plants with cuttings. Even when she was actively dying and couldn’t care for them, her windowsill plants thrived.

Salem, Mass. March 2019

With geraniums, I never had any luck overwintering them, even after doing research and putting them in the basement with bags over the pots.

The geraniums inherited from Noreen, on the other hand, I put in a cold east-facing window for the winter and pretty much forgot about them. They sprawled. They bloomed. They transitioned to the outdoors beautifully. All summer, they graced deck corners and patio edges.

This geranium above is the same one you see below.

My point is we are not one thing only and neither are our relationships. It is a testament to how difficult my sister was that it took three years for the sweeter memories to start percolating up, but they are, and I’m grateful.

22 thoughts on “Not one thing or the other

  1. Jen

    Good that there are some sweeter memories too. Familial relationships can be so difficult and tricky to navigate, sometimes.
    Sometimes I strive for contact (95% initiated by me)….& am frequently disappointed etc, and go thru another “dry spell”.

    You know the saying that you can pick your friends, but not your family…HA.

  2. snicklefritzin43

    It’s an amazing reality that time finds the space for the positive, healing memories to begin to fill our heart…and as that happens, so many of the unpleasant, painful pieces of the story begin to shrink and hold less weight. I see this in my life as the true gift of Spirit.

  3. RainSluice

    I’ve been immersed the past few days in sister-thoughts, and here you are on the topic! Your experiences regarding your sister are a testament to her clairvoyance and power. I wonder was there ever anyone who met her and did not feel that? I surely felt it. I resist “going there” to this day, because I do believe there are realms of perception we are not all tuned in to. I also believe I am not strong enough to spend time there.
    I visited a “witch shop” recently, while in the mountains of GA. I could not resist picking out a random Tarot card for $1.00. It was a good card -thank you St Peter. Haha – I’m not resist saying that. Now, where did Catholicism come from? Or, ss that a question that is not to be asked unless one is ready to suffer the answer? I digress, sorry.
    In my pagan way, I happened to realize today how much I miss my sisters. As I gathered fall leaves in the woods it came to me. One sister gone forever, and two at a significant distance. Despite all the “insanity”, we can forgive and find amazing beauty in people we simply come to know well – or are related to 🙂
    Thanks for this reminder.

    1. deemallon Post author

      What were you doing in Georgia? And what card was it? I think my sister’s interests in the occult served a persona. Power? I don’t know. Those last nine years she was in such decline it’s hard to remember all her one-time epic mental strengths (corrupted tho they were by mishigas).

    1. deemallon Post author

      Yes. Somewhere I have written down something you said. It went something like this: “We try to pay attention to what’s important, forgetting that it’s all important.”

  4. Marti

    Sisters, the person who knew you best even if she was the total opposite: mine, dead for 7 years, not a part of my life for many years, until the end and even then, distanct due to life circumstances. She was heavy into the occult and the black mysteries, alternative lifestyle, fiercely Spanish, fiercely sure that her way was the only way, and after seven years since her death,the missing comes more and more….but conversations have flowed, because in my family, we do speak to our dead and at times, see them, now and then in the after…and so we hold to what was loved, remembered, acknowledge and accept what was lost and what has become understood after all of this time….

    1. deemallon Post author

      I think your sister and mine had a lot in common. I would like to speak to the dead and I do try, but it usually feels like I’m making up their responses.

  5. Marti

    Dee, you raise such an important point because while I know I have heard my sister speak to me, there have been times when the conversation, I’m sure, is all one-sided, with me speaking for her, as well as myself…still, I hold to the belief that she, as well as my Mom and Dad, have reached across to connect and reassure…

  6. Tina

    No matter how frustrated you were .. even angry with her I never doubted that you loved your sister maybe not always or in all ways. Relationship’s can be so hard .. I’m happy that you’re seeing love in this beautiful plant that is a reminder of a softer side. I may not have found all the right words here but please know they come from the heart.

  7. Nancy

    Dee, You’ve been such a very good sister. I remember the hard of that, but the wonder too . This is a beautiful, heartfelt post. I have thought many a time about you and your sister and how that was. I’m in a break with someone. It will probably last my lifetime. This is also hard, and sad.
    A geranium on each side of your front door is considered good feng shui 🙂

    1. deemallon Post author

      Thank you for this reminder of effort and kindness offered. I forget that too. It might be worth mentioning that I didn’t talk to my sister for the ten years prior to her nearly dying in November of 2009. So you never know. An absence can feel permanent and immutable when in fact it’s not.

  8. RainSluice

    I love the word “mishigas”.
    I was visiting my oldest sister (but of course) whom I haven’t seen since Feb 2020. I kept saying “it’s been 4 years”, but uh… 2 can equal 4, yes? She’s now living with my niece, and niece’s spouse, on a big mountain – it’s beautiful. She’s got her own apt.
    The card I picked was The Chariot! nice, eh?

    1. deemallon Post author

      The Chariot card signifies travel, among other things, so perfect for a trip! And to my mind two years can equal four. Danny’s coming home in a couple weeks and he hasn’t been here in over three years but it feels like five.

  9. RainSluice

    So glad to hear Danny’s coming home! I’m so curious about who your boys have become as adults.
    Time itself has become a different experience for everyone it seems? Often frustrating?
    Travel – yes, I was very fortunate in my travel. The woman in the shop was clear this, to her, meant taking control of one’s journey. I like that! (I seek control, always). I’ve had tarot readings with full decks,and in dark rooms as well as city streets; my sense is that one card is just a tease, has no context… but it’s fun to have that communication, now matter how it make itself known 🙂 xo

  10. Saskia van Herwaarden

    grief, remembering, it’s all a jumble
    I hardly think about my parents, until ‘blam’ I do, mostly my mother
    she loved geraniums too, I’m not sure I do but even so most years I find myself buying a couple, they usually don’t survive Winter as I have no where to keep them indoors, perhaps that will change with the house-extension


Leave a Reply