Monday, June 05, 2006

Sistah-friend

These are my favorite pictures of my little sister (on the left in both photos) and me. One was taken in 1951 and the other 10 years ago this summer. In between, we provoked squabbles with each other, slapped and tattled, vied for our mother's attention, and everything else that goes along with sibling rivalry.

For most of our adult lives, we've lived in different states. For years, we'd talk on the phone once in a blue moon, see one another on rare occasions when I went home or she came to visit, and keep up with each other's news largely by relaying it through Mother.

Then, in 1996, we took a trip together for the first time as adults. We went back to our hometown for a family reunion. Shoulder to shoulder, we stepped forward to meet relatives we hadn't seen in nearly 40 years, and we relaxed together as we felt the warmth of their welcome. We visited schools and parks and shared our separate memories of being there long ago. We mourned the fact that our childhood home had long since been demolished to make way for a university tennis court, but we went to that spot anyway and stood together on the very ground where we once rode our bikes, pulled each other in the wagon, and drew hopscotch squares with colorful Missouri rocks. We looked at each other in surprise and fought back tears as an unidentified fragrance from our childhood suddenly wafted through the air and reminded us we were home.

On the trip back to our present-day homes, we stopped overnight in the majesty of the Ozark Mountains. We sat together on the balcony of a Victorian-style bed-and-breakfast inn and soaked up the beauty and tranquility of the evening. We talked about the places we'd been, the people we'd seen, the things that time had changed, and the things it hadn't. We sweltered together in the heat of an un-air-conditioned auto dealership after we encountered car problems. We stopped over and over at fast-food restaurants to use their clean restrooms and bought cold drinks as a thank-you, whether we needed them or not. We got lost. We struggled through mixed-up hotel reservations. We worked it all out. We talked, we drove, we talked some more and drove some more, and we left the miles and the years behind us.

We both knew when we started out that it would be an emotional trip down memory lane, but we had no idea it would be the beginning of our journey together into the future. We talked--and listened--more on that trip than we'd ever done in our whole lives, and we got to know each other as the women we'd become. We discovered that our differences would fit in a thimble and that our similarities are too big to be confined by time or space.

I've always loved my sister, but from that trip forward I've loved her more, and I've learned to appreciate her to a degree that makes my heart swell. She's fun-loving, quick-witted, whip-smart, rock-solid, and beautiful to boot. She may not always agree with everything I do or say, but I'm convinced she'll have my back either way. And I'll have hers.

Last night I e-mailed my sister about a silly little thing that had ticked me off. Mostly, I wrote to her because I wanted to vent to someone who knows me through and through and wouldn't need an explanation as to why my feathers were ruffled.

I got her reply at lunchtime today. As usual, she didn't disappoint me. If she thought I was right, she didn't feel the need to validate my opinion, and if she thought I was wrong, she didn't find it necessary to point out the reasons why. Instead, with one simple, typed sentence, she let me know she heard me--and understood.

Thanks, Sis. Again. I love ya'.

13 comments:

  1. Wow, that was powerful. Thanks.

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  2. I wish my sister and I had that kind of relationship. Maybe it will. We've seen more of each other in the last few years and I know I can rely on her if I need anything.

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  3. a sister's bond is powerful. i'm very thankful for my sister. i enjoy reading your blog.

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  4. Kim says I look a little like your sister. I think it may be the hair. Wish I were your sister! What lucky girls to have each other.

    Noël

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  5. It was lovely reading your journey down memory lane. Our childhood memories are often the most poignant but to share that moment with your sister the way you did is all the more sweeter. A journey within a journey.

    I've been meaning to say I love that Velvet Sacks introduction. Is it yours?
    Sandy

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  6. Priss and Erin: I cried while I wrote it and my sister cried when she read it. That power is "girl power"--plus hormones.

    Janet: I highly recommend a road trip. Think "Thelma and Louise," without the violence and the unhappy ending. Without Brad Pitt, too, actually.

    Noel: Welcome to the family. My sister would tell you you're lucky you missed the early years.

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  7. Oops, I missed you, Sandy. Thanks on both counts. The poem is mine. The name of it is "Reunion," and I borrowed from it when I first tried to start this blog and found out all the really good names I could think of had been used already.

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  8. sisters have a special bond. we have the same memories and the same grief. my sisters are my best friends maybe my only friends. they know my faults and don't care. i can tell them anything and they will understand.

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  9. Patsy, you summed it up perfectly, especially the part about sharing the same grief and the same memories. That's exactly how it is.

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  10. Apples from the same tree
    have the same flavor. They
    have felt the same sun, rain,
    and see the same view! All
    of the apples are a little
    different though...but more
    sameness than apples from
    any other orchard!

    Your writing very much reminds
    me of our Aunt Thelma. Now, I
    know you are younger than she.
    She was a powerful, intelligent,
    woman with the greatest insight
    I have ever known!

    On top of all this, I love your
    poetry!

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  11. Sweet-Sister, no one has to wonder how you got that name. Thanks for the sweet comments. I love the apple analogy.

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  12. I loved your article about your sister. My sister died 6 years ago this summer, and even tho the raw wounds have healed I miss her every day. No one could make me laugh like that, no one understood me like that ,, it is truly a unique and special bond.

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  13. Carol, it's clear from your post that the bond didn't break when your sister died. That's reassuring. Thanks.

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