COLUMBIA — Whenever trouble came to call, my cousin always said that she had a strong back-up system. She said it was called "me, myself and I." Consequently, when she got herself into a mess, she got herself out of it. Nevertheless, she was always willing to help others, and she was greatly appreciated by her friends.
Her sister operated from the other side of the border. She couldn’t walk out of the door before somebody talked her out of money she couldn’t afford to lend and she would have to borrow bus fare home. At least once every week, somebody in the family had to pull her sister out of a jam. She behaved so pitifully, that we nicknamed her "Sorry Sadie."
All through our childhood, my friends and I marveled over the differences between Sadie and her sister. Sadie was always tardy getting to school, nine days out of 10 she would leave her lunch on the bus, her homework was almost always half forgotten. We always noticed that Sadie’s mother seemed to have no expectations of her. When Sadie actually accomplished anything, members of her family seemed to consider it a miracle.
Unfortunately, as we girls grew up, Sadie never really changed. She managed to get a job in her cousin’s grocery store, which she couldn’t perform very well. Still, nothing much was expected of her. It always seemed that Sadie’s whole family expected very little of her, and she managed to contribute as little as they expected. She worked for years in her cousin’s store while her sister went on to become a notable teacher and achieve the honor of having a school named for her.
Whenever I’m in the neighborhood I always stop and visit Sadie. She’s as friendly as she always was, and I’m still amazed that she never attempted to seek a higher goal. She is from a prominent family, and all of her sisters are professionals and have achieved great honors. But Sadie has remained the same as she always was. And I couldn’t help but believe that she grew up to become the Sorry Sadie that we called her when she was a child.
Finally, one day an invitation came. It was an invitation to Sadie’s wedding. It turned out to be a huge wedding with all of Sadie’s kin in attendance. She was marrying a neighborhood boy — one that we had known for all of our lives. The young man had been working at her cousin’s store for all these years.
They saved the announcement for the bridal shower. Her mother stood up and made it. Sadie and her young man were buying the store. They had been saving their money all those years to buy the store. That had been Sadie’s goal and her ambition.
Actually, Sadie wasn’t sorry any more. Apparently, all her life she had been building for this moment. She wasn’t born with a "strong backup system," she had to build one.
Better late, than never.