There is a number of years between my oldest sister, Karen, and myself. In fact, I don’t even remember her living with us much other than here and there between different life events. She tended to move around a lot and travel a lot which most people, and I guess particularly women, did not do in the 1960s and early 1970s. What I do remember is that she was my barometer for what it meant to be grown up when I was a little kid. On reflecting now, at age 63, I probably should have held onto that particular idea.
During one of the times that Karen was back ‘home’, I recall several evenings when I would get out of bed to use the bathroom and see the light still on downstairs. It was probably only around midnight but everyone else was asleep and it seemed extremely late to me. I would peek down the steps and see Karen sitting in this black recliner she brought home with her, staring out the window smoking and drinking scotch. At one point I was so curious I ventured downstairs to ask what she was doing and she said ‘Just thinking’. Wow! I figured this must be what it was like to be a grown up; count me in!
There were other things Karen did that seemed worldly to me. She had a skin care regime that included odd products like astringent, read Cosmopolitan magazine (which I would sneak and read), and ate something called Bagels. Whenever she went to a movie, I always asked her what it was rated (the rating system being new at the time). One time, she went to see a new movie called Midnight Cowboy. When she told me it was rated X, I was shocked!
Karen worked as a journalist most of her life. One morning before I went to school, I asked her to write a note for me in case I had to go to the bathroom. I had a teacher in 5th grade who said he would not let anyone go to the bathroom without a note from home. Being 10, I took him very seriously. She wrote me a note and then when I repeated the request the next day, she decided she would furnish me with several days worth of notes courtesy of the staff at the Philadelphia Daily News. Thereafter, notes were no longer required
So back to the title of this blog post Love, Karen. Karen traveled very often and sent postcards regularly, not only to the whole family, but to each of us individually if she saw a card that she thought we would like. Two of the notes on these postcards I thought were particularly funny:
From the Grand Canyon in 1971: I’m sitting at [the] Grand Canyon on lookout point – grooving along with nature. Love, Karen This sentiment could only have been written and sent during that time period.
From Monaco, circa 1976: Stopped by to see Grace & Rainier but they weren’t around Love, Karen
Often, they said nothing more than Hi, Love Karen