November 13, 2014

My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.

After reading about the sisters I invite you to visit the new site.








If we had met as teenagers or later in life I doubt we’d have the strong relationship we have today. After all, my older sister Lee and I are very different—we’re like oil meeting water. Perhaps it can be said we are polar opposites.

The few outsiders who have been guests in our respective homes observe one polar difference between us. You enter her home and it is so neat and orderly. You enter my home and…well, I must remove the clutter from the chairs so you have a place to sit…I have to pile up the papers etc. on my table in order to serve you tea. You can read a more detailed comparison between a near neatnik and an almost hoarder by clicking on My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home .

Then there is our workplace demeanor. My sister would never walk into her workplace office wearing a fuzzy maroon bathrobe, matching fuzzy maroon sneakers, no makeup, and unkempt hair—looking for all the world like she just rolled out of bed. And yes, I did just that. It was justified, if I say so myself. It was in retaliation for my boss challenging me to be in the office first thing in the morning to complete editing a news article.

“You will be here first thing in the morning?” he kept asking. And kept asking. And repeated about a dozen times during the half hour before the office closed.

“I’ll show you,” I thought when he wouldn’t quit. And so I did. I must admit my outfit that day was one of my most professional looks. And one that Lee would never match. She is just too proper. I can hear her saying “You didn’t do that…you wouldn’t do that…” Oh yes, I would. Just dare me.

Workplace decorum is important to Lee. She would never enjoy reducing office stress with toys such as what you can read about by clicking on WORKPLACE STRESS REDUCTION ACTIVITIES: MORTIFYING AND FUN . I, on the other hand, wouldn’t think twice about creating laughter and smiles in any office where I was employed. Of course, I also make certain I do my work and don’t aggravate my bosses too much…but beyond that, anything goes.

Along the propriety line, my sister doesn’t go anywhere without her makeup on and her hair coifed. I don’t wear makeup, and I gave up trying to do my hair nicely. It’s so baby fine that when I do fix it nicely it only lasts five minutes—ten at the best—unless I glue it down with a massive dose of hairspray. I finally caved in and adopted the windblown look.

Outsiders note another difference between Lee and I—I won’t touch cigarettes, she would be lost without her pack of 20.

In spite of the fact that these polar differences that make us like oil and water we are great friends. That’s because we share a history that belongs only to us.

Carolyn (left), Lee

Carolyn (left), Lee

We were the only two grandchildren who grew up in my grandparent’s New England home for eight years, then lived We are, in fact, the only two of my mother’s nine children who knew our grandmother. Several of our younger siblings knew our grandfather, but Lee and I KNEW him.

We knew other things too. A cocker spaniel dog Buffy. The apple tree, under which we sat so still, ever so still, while bees landed on our arms but didn’t sting. The rock cliffs at Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, New Hampshire which we adeptly climbed adeptly, even as preschoolers. The sand castles, crab collections, and coastal surf where we splashed in the waves.

We were the only two children who were plucked from our New England coastal world to live in a strange city world: Buffalo, New York. There we gained five more siblings, the oldest 11 years younger than am I. We shared their arrival and care. And even though they are siblings, they never shared our bonding history that occurred before their arrival.

That history trumps all our polar differences. It’s something that is ingrained in us, something no one else shares, something no one can take away from us.

And it is what kept us best friends for six-plus decades.

Lee (left) and Carolyn

Lee (left) and Carolyn


  1. Carolyn, an interesting story of you and your sister, Lee. I’m ten years older than my sister, Sue. Oil and water…yes, indeed. She is my only sister but she has another half sister…
    I also wear the “wind-blown look” … 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — November 15, 2014 @ 12:33 am | Reply

  2. […] My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water […]

    Pingback by A Fireside Chat: Sisters Remember | Carolyn's Online Magazine — January 24, 2015 @ 12:27 am | Reply

  3. […] My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water […]

    Pingback by Marissa and Jocelyn: A Fairy Tale | Carolyn's Online Magazine — January 25, 2015 @ 10:38 am | Reply

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