Tomorrow, I’ll call my sister

tomorrow, I'll call my sister

I grew up in an old house, in a small town. To be accurate, we lived outside the small town, in an even smaller hamlet of sorts, surrounded by farmland, alongside a train line; a primary school it’s only town-like feature.

The blocks were big and the homes were small. A sign of generations passed. At one point I believe our house was the hamlets post office, the one up the street a bakery, but those days were long gone.

I don’t know why we were there. I suppose it was my dads job that took us to this tiny place, away from my parent’s family and friends. But there we were. First me, then almost six years later, along came my sister.

We lived in a house of music. There was always music; records and then later, CD’s were always playing through the enormous speakers in our living room. But not TV. It wasn’t that my parents were against it, or maybe they were and just never told us, but it just never seemed important to them.

I was a probably 10 or 11 before we became the last family on our street to get a VCR and a colour TV. Before that, we had a tiny little black and white thing. It did the trick, but when we got that VCR, I’ll never forget the first movie we bought.

Mum wanted something we could watch together – and with such an age gap between us, it would have been a hard ask. After much debate, a video of Disney’s Aladdin, newly released, came home and we proceeded to watch it until it wore out. Between us, Claude and I managed to memorise the whole screenplay, songs included.

The lines have become part of our family language… calm yourself Iago, is regularly thrown at poor Poss and I’m quite sure she has no idea where the reference has come from.

The story isn’t that remarkable, or then again maybe it is; it survived all those thousands of years before Disney got their hands on it. But for us, the skill was always in the Genie. This voice that turned words on a page into magic; making rugs dance, sand dunes boom and turning thieves into princes.

We’ve both grown up since then, and I’ve watched Aladdin again and again with Poss over the years; driving her crazy as I sing and replay the parts I shared with my sister all those years ago.

And of course, the Genie has gone on to do other things too. Turns out, he did things before that as well. I’ve loved him in other movies, in interviews and documentaries, on stage and in TV; a great respect was born from that childhood character that’s lasted me well into my adult years.

Tonight we watched the news with Poss and they talked about how today, Robin Williams died. We spoke about why, and we explained that sometimes, people get sick and that sickness makes them very sad, so sad that they just can’t live anymore. Sometimes they get better and sometimes they don’t.

We talked about our favourite Robins Williams moments, Poss offered to pray for him in class, then we watched Mrs Doubtfire until I couldn’t watch it anymore. Tomorrow, I’ll call my sister.


There will be a thousand blog posts written about this over the coming weeks; and while I never thought I’d write a post like this about a celebrity I’ve never met, I never expected to lose a great like him. Selfish of me really. Because as others, much wiser and more experienced than me, have said, depression is the great leveller. On that, if you need help, you can start here with Beyond Blue or here, with LifeLine

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  1. Beautifully put Renee, I think we all have a favourite movie memory of someone who has touched us through every type of genre. My personal favourite is Dead Poets Society – I remember crying as though my heart would break in a crowded cinema and not caring in the least who saw me, such was the effect it had on me.

    As you said, depression is the great leveller. It heartens me that both my FB and twitter feeds are full of people sharing contact numbers and being supportive of mental illness. Just such a shame that it came about this way.

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