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Friday, October 06, 2006

Part 4 – Sister-2-Sister

This is a continuation from the three posts below. Feel free to scroll down and catch up. I’ll wait right here for you.

Lois Patrice of Fox Bluff, Tennessee (not actual location) stood out like a sore thumb. I’d been scrolling page after page of listings with the last name of Patrice. I guess when I saw my own first name, next to my best friend’s first name, living in the same town as my best friend, I was simply wowed. It meant something. The pounding of my heartbeat was thunderous. The signs seemed even stronger than all of the others, so I grabbed the phone and I dialed.

I didn’t know what I was going to say. “Hi, I’m Lois too. Um… I have a Jane Patrice here… any relation?” No, because that just sounds stupid. My palms grew sweaty and my heart refused to slow down. My head was swimming.

I thought of hundreds of ways to begin the awkward conversation, but once the ringing stopped, and the lady on the line said, “Hello,” some words that I can not recall, popped out of my mouth.

“Oh my goodness! Are you kidding me? Oh gosh! Where? When? Oh my gosh!”

This woman clearly knew Jane. What are the chances? The one and only phone number dialed in the hundreds listed. What. Are. The. Chances???

“Lois, I know this all seems very weird for you. It is for me too. But how are you related to Jane?”

Crying, she said, “I’m her sister.”

I cried with her.

I have been playing the role of Jane’s sister. She even calls me LoLo, which I haven’t been called since I was little. She sits with me when I write, curls up next to me when I read. She looks to see if I am smiling at something on the TV before she smiles. She likes to help me help the kids with homework. She loves to help make supper. She always wants to go wherever I go. She looks up to me in so many ways and now, it was making sense.

I’d wondered how we had grown such a quick connection. You don’t typically run into a homeless person and feel such a bond as sisterhood, but we did. Childlike in so many ways, her voice, smile, carefree spring in her step even though her life was in a sandstorm, I was her big sister in her mind.

I caught Mr. Lane smiling at us on many occasions. One day I asked how the idea he was so against initially, made him so happy. He said, “I love how you are with her. I love how she glows when she looks at you. I just think it is the cutest thing ever, Lois.”

His words were strength for me. I wanted to make sure she kept that glow. There are times, lots and lots of times that Jane tries my patience to the limit. I bought her socks and underwear because she didn’t have any. She refused to use either. I bought her a razor because her legs are hairy. She refused to use it. A friend of mine gave me clothes for her. She refused to accept any even though they were much nicer than the few clothes she has. If I make something for dinner that she doesn’t like, she won’t eat. But she surely makes up for not eating supper with dessert. It is one of the very few things she will allow me to give her. I guess her sweet tooth is stronger than her pride. Those are only a few examples. There are countless other things she does and says that are defiant in that childlike way. My husband’s words and his smile, which I see clearly in my mind, get me through those difficult times.

After talking to Lois Patrice for a while and getting some background information about Jane, I told her how we found each other. She was absolutely mortified that her sister was sitting on the side of the road. She was thankful I found her, however. She was also surprised at the bond her sister and I grew so quickly, and then, suggested besides our names being the same, maybe we look similar. She said, she is 5’9”, with brown hair and eyes, and then asked what I looked like.

“Ditto,” it was the only word I could muster. Signs. Too many signs.

She told me that Jane likes to runaway. No one reports her missing anymore. Over all, she has traveled for nearly fifteen years. The last three years, something snapped and Jane changed. Her form of travel became much less conventional and her mind began to go.

Jane grew up in a well-known, wealthy and proud family. In school she was in accelerated classes, coming out on top every time. She was a star athlete, pianist, and ballerina. The more I learned from her real sister, the more I knew I had a princess turned pauper on my hands. But she was not a pauper at all.

“My sister has millions of dollars in her trust fund. There is no reason for her to be taking away from you and your family.”

That tidbit of information stole my breath. Millions, I can not fathom, unless I am playing Monopoly.

“She isn’t taking from us. We love having her here. I only made contact because I knew someone had to be missing and worrying about her. I only wanted her family to know that she was okay and that she was safe.”

Mr. Lane and I invited her to stay with us as long as she wanted. We even have an extra bedroom in our new house. She seemed so happy at the thought of being off of that couch and into her own room. She was as excited about it as our kids.

“There’s no reason for her to be on the side of the road. There’s no reason for her to be eating your family’s food and staying in your home, especially your new home, your family’s first home. You guys are heaven sent, Lois.”

“No we aren’t. And there is a reason for everything.”

But why she is no longer the person she was, made the mystery grow.

Now, I might be milking it. Come back Monday for part five, and have a great weekend.