Today's post is in honor of the day someone amazing arrived in my world. At the time she arrived, I didn't know it was amazing, all I knew was that Mom and Dad had left me and my brother wasn't with me. I was four and a half.
I do remember Dad coming to the house where I was staying and asking if I wanted to stay there for the night or go home with him. We lived in a vertical duplex and 'going home' just meant going downstairs, so I decided to go home. We sat on the sofa in the living room while he held me in his lap and told me I had a little sister. I was very impressed by her name since she had TWO middle names, not just one. Of course, being my sweet, absent-minded Dad, he mixed up the order of the middle names, but at least he had the right ones. Her name meant 'filled with grace and beauty'. (Mom was really into the meanings of names, mine means "Christ's Joy", my brother's means "Beloved Watchman".)
I didn't appreciate the amazing gift of my sister for a while. First because even as a toddler, she liked to keep things in order. Nothing gives you a bad name like a younger sister who's favorite toy is a broom. Second, she was ADORABLE. I was an awkward skinny girl with stringy 'dishwater' blonde hair, a big forehead and buck teeth. She had hair like white gold in a halo of curls. She tanned instead of sunburning and was wonderful with the old ladies at church. Third, with the age gap between us, it mostly felt like she was stealing my stuff all the time. Clothes, earrings, stuffed animals. I kept threatening to remove anything of mine that she was wearing, even if we were in public, but I never followed through. Most of my memories of my sister when we were younger involve all three of us. She and my bro often went off adventuring together, or all three of us played (and fought and roamed the neighborhood) together, but it was rare that she and I did stuff alone together as kids. Fourth, when I was a junior in high school and she was a sixth grader, people kept thinking we were twins. She was tall for her age and both of us were skinny. Obviously, she LOVED those questions, but I hated them. At her sixth grade graduation someone congratulated me for how well I'd done on stage. That's how alike we seemed then. I was 17. But, I'm not bitter!
In our family she was seen as the 'quiet one'. She'd often fade away and go upstairs to read (often while OTRbro and I were doing chores). We had a family therapy session where the counselor asked, "And, OTRsis, what do you think?" All four of us swung around to look at the eight year old in the corner. She has opinions?! It was a revelation for our oblivious family.
Once she left for college we began to develop our own relationship. We'd often chat about family dynamics, who she was becoming, and this great guy she'd met (he's still around). Our Mom died her senior year of college. OTRsis and I spent a month and a half at home together. The first two weeks we worked together to take care of Mom as she died and then we spent a month 'organizing the house'. That often looked like laying around in bed reading books and being depressed. We did have days where we had enough energy to clean, sort and organize. In many ways, I would say that our adult relationship began then.
Over the years it's been fun to see my sister come out of her quiet zone and become the opinionated, creative, powerful woman that she is. She was freaked out to have to go first into the realm of mommy-hood, especially since we don't have a Mom we can call with our questions, but she's been amazing. She's raising fun, confident kids who share her intelligence and fun sense of humor.
Happy Birthday, OTRsis! You're fantastic.
PS. I have a box of stuff ready to send. Hopefully you'll get your birthday gifts before Christmas...