Dispatches

7 lbs. 6 oz.

Beth Rowntree

Some things about my sister Beth that I can’t think about for too long without getting sad and confused:

1. The time we went to the Bracebridge Dairy for cherry pie and vanilla ice cream and she took too long in the bathroom, so I kept knocking on the door, and when she emerged she said, “My life is hard, you know.”

2. The time I blew snot out my nose and rubbed it in her hair in front of the boys from down the way who were already afraid of her.

3. The time my cousin said at the family reunion that she ruined everything.

4. The time some kids threw snowballs at us on the way home from school, and the ones they threw at her had stones in them.

5. The time a man gave her an engagement ring that was too big for her finger so it came off during the night in her bed, and the staff at the group home found and returned it to the man, who’d spent his disability allowance on it, and she thought he had broken up with her because she lost the ring, and nobody ever told her anything different.

6. The time I looked in her purse and found nothing but scraps of paper so covered in writing there was hardly any white left on the pages.

7. The time my mother told me she had a normal birth weight, 7 lbs. 6 oz., but an abnormal delivery because a bully nurse shoved her back in and held her until the doctor arrived.

8. The first time she became an outpatient at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry and wrote this list to remember the layout:

11th floor

Dr. Jeffries’ Office

9th floor

8th floor

7th floor

6thfloor

5th floor

4th floor

3rd floor

Day Care Centre

Ground Floor

Chapel

9. The time I found her poem “Lies” in her wastebasket:

Happy

Jolly

Jovial

Pretty

Funny

Beautiful

Cheerful, Pleasant

Lovely, Sense of Humour

Educated, Famous, Smiling

Lies, Full of Lies, A Wheat Sheaf Full of Lies.

Lenore Rowntree is a Vancouver painter and writer who writes every day. Beth Rowntree lives in a group home in Vancouver, and if she had her way she would never stop writing.

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