Jess Karstens

Last year I screwed up JK and my sister got all pissy gently reminded me, so I’m fixing it this year.

Ah, Jess Karstens, my baby sister, the person most genetically like me in the whole wide world. She is 16 months and 1 week younger than I am, so I don’t remember this world without her.

 Christmas girls

She had classic Little Sister problems, like when our mom dressed us alike for about ten years. She had to wear that fancy blue dress twice as long as I did, because when she outgrew hers, mine was waiting for her.

As the baby, though, she was a little spoiled (and she will, when she’s in the right mood, admit this). My favorite story to illustrate this drives her crazy, but I’m gonna tell it anyway, because this is my blog and she’s not the boss of me.

Jess was (and still is) really sensitive to food textures. She didn’t like the crunch of an apple peel, for example, and don’t even start with her on bananas of any ripeness. My parents had little tolerance for such things, but they would try to accommodate her on occasion. Particularly with apples, which I remember eating often, growing up.

My parents were practical people. Myra grew a lot of our own food in her garden, and we weren’t exactly wealthy, so waste was something they actively avoided. To that end, when they realized Jess wouldn’t eat apple peels but they didn’t especially bother me, my dad started peeling the apples for her, and giving me the peelings.

Do you understand? You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m totally serious. My little sister got the smooth, juicy, appliness, and I got the waxy, between-teeth-inflitrating peeling. The part that we know now is made up almost entirely of cancer cells, dirt, and worm poop. She got the nutrition, I got the chemical bath it was wrapped in.

I’m mostly over this obvious injustice, but I still like this story. And I know that as she’s reading this, she’s plotting her reply. She’ll tell you that Dad cut the peeling off with generous apple attached, and that I didn’t want for nutrition growing up. But the truth is, one of us ate the peelings, and one of us didn’t. If that’s not a metaphor, well, you’re not trying very hard.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t until I went away to college that I appreciated her (I know. Such cliches!) but now I can’t imagine my life without her. She is a kick-ass musician, hilarious,  and stronger than you’d think, having had so few apple peels in her life.  She was beside me when Dad died, and the loss of Mom without Jess to share this burden of grief is unimaginable to me. She is the greatest gift my parents ever gave me.

I love you so, sissy.

Myra's Birthday Party


About Jennifer

Writer teacher mama sister friend sewist poet trying to stay warm in Minnesota's northwest.
This entry was posted in Family, Hendrum, Nostalgia. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Jess Karstens

  1. Jess says:

    I quit reading at apple peel and went straight for reply but then figured I had better see if you actually put the truth in the story this time. You did better than usual. I know you will argue but you wanted the peel because dad cut it off in one piece and there was more apple on the peel than left on the core. And to my recollection which is younger and therefore better than yours it only happened once. I love you too but you need to get a new story. How about when I bit my thumb and blamed you? Or when I tattled that you stole the last puzzle piece and put it in your jammie footies so you could put the last piece in? Thanks for the JK recognition, fen, you’re the best.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Dude, EVERY APPLE. EVERY TIME. But yeah, that pajama trick was awesome.

  3. Shirley says:

    Remember, Jen, this was back in the day when we didn’t know about the bad chemicals and we thought that peels of almost anything had MORE nutrition in the peel than in the meaty part of the fruit! Now play with THAT idea!

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