Amanda's Epistle

The continuing story of my life in Thailand

Life with Jam (Part 1)

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IMG_1667I recently received news that my dear sister Jamie is now in hospice care.  She just can’t take the chemo treatments anymore.  So I will now sit back and reflect on our life as sisters, as wonderful, typical, and not-so-typical as it was.

Jam was the middle child.  Our older sister Deb was excited when I was born.  After all, she was eight.  But Jam was three and could really care less.  Soon as Mom brought me home, first thing she did was shove the newborn out of the way so SHE could sit in Mom’s lap.

As my son is almost three and I’m expecting our next child, I have to wonder if he’s going to do the same thing.  He’s already sitting in my lap as I’m writing.

When I was small, we lived in a house on Rose Street and Jam and I shared a room with a bunk bed.  I was on the bottom bunk and discovered one of the bars on the bed could be twisted around, making a squeaking noise.  So every night, I would lie down there and twist that bar.  When Jam asked what I was doing, I told her I was playing with a merry-go-round.

For years, she thought I really did have a toy merry-go-round down there.  It took a while for her to discover that it was just a loose bar on the bed.

Being close in age, we also shared bath time.  And we LOVED bath time.  I used it to make up a miracle product called Double-Tab, which could clean absolutely anything.  Jam sat in the tub with me as I went through a whole infomercial on the wonders of Double-Tab.  Most of the time, we never got around to actually getting clean.

Bath time was never as fun when we weren’t allowed to bathe together.  It then got ruined permanently when I came home with head lice, and of course, all three of us got it.  Deb, as the fussy older child, refused to admit she had head lice until it was confirmed by the hair stylist.  All she shampooing and hair combing took all the fun out of bathing.  It also ruined our stuffed animals, as they had to be run through the dryer and none of them were soft and fluffy anymore.

We had a lot of stuffed animals.  We got some in sets of three, one for each of us.  But I used to envy Jam because she always got one when she had to go to the hospital.  I’ll tell you now, Jam REALLY got the short end of the stick when it came to health.  Deb rarely had to go to the hospital for anything.  I’ve never been admitted to a hospital in the US (my first hospital experience was after I moved to Thailand).  But Jam was ALWAYS in there for something, be it tonsils, eye surgery, ear surgery, etc. etc. etc.  And she’s NEVER enjoyed it…although she did get some great toys that way.

One of these was the Coco Penguin, which our school counselor gave to Jam for one of these hospital stays.  He came with a pen so your friends could sign his belly.  He also came with a little song.

Coco, Coco Penguin marching by

Feet spread out and his head held high

Long black coat and a clean white vest

Coco, Coco Penguin, you’re the best!

Another time when Jam was in the hospital, our youth pastor came to see her.  He was a fun guy that rode a motorcycle and wore a leather jacket.  One of the nurses had to raise her eyebrows and asked my mother, “You mean THAT is a PASTOR?”

This pastor was the same one who led us to the Lord, although Dad did the actual baptisms.  Jam was baptized first, which of course, made ME want to get baptized.  After all, the little sister always wants to do what the big sister gets to do, and Jam was now allowed to take communion.  The pastor finally came by and talked over the meaning of baptism before I was finally allowed to be baptized as well.  Like most kids, I knew full well what it meant to be baptized and follow Jesus, but my primary motivation was still to take communion like Jam did (and go to heaven too).

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Author: amandachwa

I am an English teacher living in Thailand with my Lisu husband (a Thai citizen) and our children, ages 10, 4, and 18 months.

5 thoughts on “Life with Jam (Part 1)

  1. I loved your story. Memories of childhood are always so special and it sounds like you had some good times ❤

  2. Ha, I never new about the bunkbed and the “marry go round”!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I lost my younger sister 7 years ago to breast cancer.

  4. Hard to believe Johnny is almost three!
    Did your sister ever get called “James”? That’s been my primary nickname since playing softball as a kid. “Jamco” was another, not sure where that came from. “Jam” as in a short A sound?

    • Actually, she was named after an Uncle James. Deb and I called her Jam and Mom sometimes called us “peanut butter and jam.” The origin of the nickname will be in a later post.

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