SISTERS, BUT NOT. A snippet from Kenzie O’Hara’s book, A Good Little Girl.

Greetings dear friends!

Be assured; I miss reading your brilliant blogs and exchanging comments, but, due to persistent medical issues, I haven’t been up for much of anything. The last few months, I’ve done little except plop in my comfy chair with a heating pad and grow mind-numb from  hoards of re-runs and ridiculous programs that prompt, “I don’t know how this made it to TV.”

With the crying out of the way, here is another excerpt from A Good Little Girl by Kenzie O’Hara.

This week, some insight into the highly dysfunctional life I shared with my 4 ½ years older sister, Kate.  Though we dwelled under the same roof, my tough as nails sibling refused to connect with me, her little sister.  Our relationship was complicated, confusing, at times downright nasty, and at others, the weirdness bordered on a type of love.


Kathleen Rose O’Hara Russo

My Sister, and Our Unsisterhood

(November 13, 1943–October 11, 1965)

IMG_0334 (2)

In the two years before the end of World War II, and during the introduction of withholding tax on wages, the economy spiraled downward. People experienced severe financial hardships, yet two people held a damn-it-all attitude and brought a child into the uncertain world. Thus, my four-and-a-half-year elder sibling came to be.

Above:  Father and Mom – pre-marriage and pre-children.


Below:  Mother and Kate.  Check out the bathing suit. 

momKARENWith thick dark hair that slid over her chocolate-brown eyes and a nose that matched Father’s, she also inherited his brooding expression. Corners of her mouth turned down or not; her loveliness wouldn’t be denied. With pouty lips and ivory skin, she possessed a subtle melancholy that many photographs captured, and her beautiful almost-black locks cascaded down her back. Mother manipulated Kate’s tresses into neat, out-of-the face braids.

When something went amiss, 99.9 percent of the time the eldest child would be the culprit, yet my parents’ first reaction always led them to blame me. The ridiculousness of the scenario made me laugh, and this uncontrollable idiosyncrasy leveled a guilty verdict upon not-guilty me. Whether verbal or physical, the undeserving reprimands would be my burden to bear, as my errant sister snickered nearby. Despite my earnest desire to be the best little girl in the universe, I would find no victory.

  A Sister’s Protective Instinct

Yes, we resided in the same house, but this didn’t guarantee a tight, sisterly bond. Yet, when I needed her, she came to assist. At a lake outing, I, a non-swimming four-year-old, I found myself sitting in the center of a black rubber tube that originated from the interior lining of a car tire and now served as a makeshift floatation device.


My gleeful splashing turned disastrous in one quick instant when I slipped through the hole in the center of the tube and into the water. Though I struggled, my body only went down deeper into the murky depths. Sheer panic ensued as water enveloped my face, and sounds softened and faded. My eyes opened wide, but the only thing visible was a dingy yellow greenness. Copious amounts of water surged into my mouth as I tried to scream, and death knocked and loomed. Soon, I would succumb to a liquid extinction.

A hand grabbed my bathing suit, lifting me back into the world of the living, and the saving hand belonged to who else but my sis.

Once again, I breathed, and credit goes to her for pulling me to shore. Limp, I lay on the soft sand, sputtering, choking, shaking, and weeping, and no adult, my parents included, came over to check on me.

Upon Mom and Dad’s return, we explained what happened, which produced a tilt of Mother’s head, and both she and Father gave me a blank stare.

All righty then, let’s go home. Perhaps, this explains why water over my knees makes me cringe.


The above is a brief peek into the strange and perplexing interactions that occurred in our family.  The majority of our sister “dance” consisted of her fingernails gouging my arms, tickling me until I turned blue, and except for a couple of occasions where she stepped in to save me from some threat, the remainder was spent in complete denial. 

Like my father, Katie acted as if I didn’t exist, no eye contact, no communication, and after a period of time, I quit trying to be her sister. 

Kate almost 20, me 16, a crack in the walls between us began to appear, but sadly, death swept her to another world, leaving our sisterhood forever dismantled.


Also available at Barnes & Noble online:


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