It’s been seven years today since my older sister Sherry died. In Florida. Unexpectedly. Alone. I think of her as a friend from my hometown on Crandall Street works to put together a Facebook page of all the kids that once lived on the street and my sister was one of those kids, one of the prettiest ones, as all the girls were pretty in that long ago. The street was our world. I could walk out my parents house and see Mount Greylock loom large right above the house tops of the neighbors across the street. The street was our world. The hospital where many of us were born was midway of the street and we played all our football games there in its field. Tackle, not touch. Most driveways were tar and almost every driveway had a basketball hoop, at least where the kids lived. There were great old ladies on the street. I had a pair of them either side of our house and we were friendly with all of them, especially two right next door to our basketball court (the driveway) where I’d wander over after supper and sit on their front porch with the rocking chairs and rock with my old lady friends. I can’t remember their names and remember everything about their faces, the walk into the inner sanctum of the beautiful home inside, the polished oak woodwork, the darkness, the cuckoo clock, the back door kitchen light where I found again sunlight and I moved through the darkness of the rooms to get to that sunlit door, into the backyard, the terraced gardens, a small built garage for one car. Everything in its place. My sister Sherry dressed me up in girl’s clothing since she didn’t have a little sister. My two younger brothers weren’t born yet. I was trans-gender before there was trans-gender. She played music by The Shirelles that still booms in my head off her on the floor 45-only turntable. Huge and sassy and blossoming women voices. Out of the girl’s clothes and into my clothes, older, she brought me Dylan. I already had the Beatles and the Stones but on The Byrds first album there was this insect looking spectacle called Bob Dylan. He looked different, darker, wiser, more dangerous than the troubadour on the first Dylan album I bought “Another Side.” My sister had a boyfriend who played Byrds songs. He had a guitar like Roger (Jim) McGuinn’s, long slack hair, my parents one night kicked him out of the house. He stayed lurking, slept on the driveway that night. My great sister. Right out of a Shirelles song. Where we buried her one late morning you can really see Mount Greylock. The tallest point in Massachusetts was in the clouds when we arrived early for the burial. How many times did I scramble up the Thunderbolt Trail with my pals off Crandall Street! Insisted on taking every member of my family up that mountain with me; the guitar player boyfriend of my sister (now married to him) I grabbed one winter day and we scaled up through snow. Scared him half to death. Laughed our heads off for years afterwards remembering that day, all those days. By the time Sherry’s ashes were set into the ground, the mountain, obedient to its friends, came out of the clouds. And the sun did shine.
[ BA ]