“Girls! Let’s go for a drive,” my dad calls in from the kitchen sounding excited. This is a rare occasion since gas prices have gone up so much. But when we get the chance, we love to drive around the country with no specific destination in mind. It’s really about spending time together, and the adventure. We all love adventure. We know we aren’t going to some distant fairy tale land when we go for drives, but it’s fun to imagine that we might discover something new and exciting.
We all pile into the car, and my dad backs out of the drive way.
“Which way are we going?” I ask.
“I think we’ll go south today, on the Hillview blacktop.” He answers. This is our favorite road to start out on. My mom turns back to my sister and me.
“If you get hungry, I brought peanut butter and crackers.” She always brings something to eat with us when we go somewhere. It’s mainly because she has diabetes, but she also likes to make sure none of us get hungry. As we drive down the long road, we start singing songs:
Down by the bay
Where the watermelons grow
Back to my home
I dare not go.
For if I do
My mother will say…
My mom’s solo: Did you ever see a pig doing a jig
Down by the bay.
Yes, we are the weird family driving down the road, singing silly songs at the top of our lungs.
This road takes us eventually to the Illinois River, and we take a ferry to get to the other side. While we’re driving, I start to reminisce about the other times we’ve done this. One particular time comes to mind. It was before my sister was born, and I was seven years old. My dad was driving and my mom was in the passenger seat. I sat in the middle of the back seat, so I could see out the front window. When we had been driving for a while, my mom looked at my dad and said,
“Do you think we should tell her?” I don’t think they knew I was listening, but as soon as she said that, I perked up.
“Tell me what?” I asked
“I guess we have to,” said my dad.
“Tell me what?”
“Ok. Maybe you should pull over,” my mom suggested.
“Tell me what?” I asked again. My dad pulled over to the side of the empty country road, and they turned around to face me.
“I’m pregnant,” my mom announced. They both looked at me expectantly, and I sat silently for a moment. I looked at my dad and then my mom. I had wanted a little sister for months (I was tired of playing by myself) and I always asked my mother if she was sure she didn’t have a baby in her stomach that she just didn’t know about. When I finally opened my mouth I said,
“So there isa baby in there!” The rest of the ride, we talked about names and what it would be like with a baby in the house.
“We want to name the baby after your dad. If it’s a boy, his name will be Sam. If it’s a girl, her name will be Sami,” my mom explained.
My dad spoke next. “We want you to be a part of the middle name, so if it’s a girl, her middle name will be Alyssa.” This would seem random to anyone else, but not to me. I had named my favorite doll Alyssa Salissa Kye. He must have mentioned a possible middle name if it was a boy, but I don’t think I was listening by that time. I was so excited.
“I can’t wait to see my baby sister,” I said.
“We don’t know it will be a girl, Jeanette. You won’t be upset if it’s a boy, will you?” asked my mom.
“No. I won’t be sad. But it’s going to be a girl. I know. I asked God for a baby sister. How long will it be before she’s born?”
“You’ll have to wait a few months,” my mom answered. “But we’ve got a lot to do to get ready, and you know if it is a girl, she will eventually have to share your room.”
“I don’t care. I want to share my stuff with her. We’ll be best friends.” I explained. My mom looked skeptical.
“She’ll want to do everything you do. You’ll want some time to yourself, but she’ll follow you everywhere.” She said. I didn’t care at the time. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever want to be away from the little sister I had always wanted. Of course I realized she was right in the next few years. I got older and wanted privacy. My sister got older and wanted me.
“Let’s eat at the Kampsville Inn!” My little sister brings me out of my wandering thoughts with her suggestion. My parents agree, and we pull into the parking lot of the little restaurant by the Illinois river. I look at my sister, Sami Alyssa. She’s fifteen now, and life has changed a lot between these two car rides. I’m in college now, and we don’t get to spend as much time together as we wish we could. I may have been wrong about always wanting to be with her, but I was right about one thing. We are best friends. My sister is one of the best things that ever happened to me.