Chapter 10: Since I Last Saw You

Chapter 10: Since I Last Saw You

a novel by Alice Ann Kuder
A story of love, loss and gratitude.

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.” ~ Vietnamese Proverb

 Chapter 10

1991 and 1983

“Isaac, you’re barely twenty-three, you just moved to Washington, and you’ve got a promising new job. Why would you choose now to start jumping out of perfectly good airplanes?” Jackie teased her younger brother.

She knew very well that Isaac loved any activity that spiked his adrenaline level. He always had. In this regard, they were total opposites. Jackie was fearful of any undertaking that might possibly cause her bodily harm. Her brother’s latest plan to take up skydiving was, she supposed, just the latest in a predictable progression of death-defying pastimes.

Growing up in Xenia, Jackie loved the miles and miles of flat Ohio terrain; Isaac longed to climb some real mountains. Jackie liked to swim in the shallow end of the pool; Isaac was doing backflips off the high dive by the time he was five. Jackie resisted having the training wheels removed from her bike until friends starting teasing her; Isaac started begging for a skateboard when he was seven.

Despite her inability to understand her brother’s attraction to all things dangerous, she could see that it made him happy, so she supported him in whatever he wanted to do. Strangely enough, Jackie never really worried about Isaac hurting himself. Between his exceptional physical coordination and his self-confidence, both siblings believed Isaac to be invincible. And big sister was satisfied to get her thrills vicariously through baby brother.

If Isaac had enough physical courage for both of them, Jackie had business acumen to spare. She had an innate ability to organize, manage, and supervise people and projects, and she did it with such tact and diplomacy that they scarcely noticed she was telling them what to do and how to do it.

When she was in the fifth grade, Jackie successfully established and published a school newspaper. As a high school freshman, she organized a campaign to get Dell to donate computers to the Xenia Community Center and then she taught free computer classes to the public. When she turned eighteen, she ran for the elected position of Precinct Executive in Greene County, and won. Her list of accomplishments grew longer and more impressive every year.

Confident that he was an intellectual match for his sister, Isaac was content to play worker bee to Jackie’s queen bee. There was not one drop of competitiveness or resentment between the two siblings. On the contrary, Isaac admired his sister’s abilities and benefited from them often—especially when he needed to earn money to finance his daredevil activities.

Six months after she got her first job as a cashier at the local Kroger, Jackie convinced her manager that fourteen-year-old Isaac would be a great bagger. Her boss was so impressed with Jackie’s maturity and performance that he happily took her recommendation. Isaac lived up to his sister’s hype and proved to be a hard worker. Before long, he was promoted from bagger to stocker and gaining valuable experience in retail sales.


It was a beautiful September Saturday for Xenia’s annual Old Fashioned Days. Jackie and Isaac had made a pact when they were very young that they would always go to the event together. Despite the teasing they endured from friends—“You’re going with your sister?”—even now that they were in high school they still held true to their pledge. It was just too much fun to miss.

Despite its name, Old Fashioned Days seemed to reinvent itself every year. Rather than rely on the same old exhibits and events, the planning committees showed endless creativity, offering activities and events as varied as antique car shows, puppet shows, art exhibits, cake walks, and dunk tanks. Musical options included barbershop quartets, country- and-western bands, and gospel singers, along with rock ‘n’ roll performers. For the more competitive fair-goers there were beauty contests, pizza eating contests, and hog calling contests. Tours of the Greene County Airport and historical homes appealed to the more sedate persons in the crowd. And, of course, there was always a carnival area with game booths and rides for the kids.

As they strolled through the center of the festival burying their faces in huge clouds of cotton candy, Jackie turned to her brother and said, “Isaac, you need a plan.”

“I do? A plan for what?” he asked, knowing that his sister would not disappoint.

“A plan for making money doing something you love to do.”

“Knowing you, you already have a plan in mind, so why don’t you save me some time and just tell me what it is?”

“Okay, Smarty-Pants, I will. Instead of stocking grocery shelves at Kroger, I think you should apply for a job stocking auto parts somewhere like Dayton Xenia Auto Parts or NAPA. You’re crazy about racecars; you hang out at Kil-Kare Speedway every chance you get. I’ll bet that a job at the auto parts store would give you an opportunity to rub shoulders with a lot of the racecar drivers. Knowing them would probably open some doors for you in the racing world. Plus, it would give you practical work experience in a business that’s at least related to racing.”

“Huh. That’s a pretty good plan except for one small detail; I don’t want to stock auto parts for someone else.”

“Oh,” Jackie said, feeling her spirit deflate.

“No, if I’m going to work at an auto-parts store, I want to own it!”

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Print version coming soon!

Posted by Alice Kuder, December 6, 2013



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