I don’t know what’s prompting me to write this. The holiday season, perhaps, and the sentimental baggage that comes with it. Or just maybe, as I get older, I don’t want there to be things left unsaid that I should have voiced, long ago. Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to write about my sister, and share this extraordinary woman with you.
It’s not that my sister does anything millions of other women don’t do. Like so many, she’s worked all her life. Her position is that of a hiring manager in a very demanding retail space. She’s raised a family, run a household, cared for our dying parents in her home, and has been the best sibling anyone could ask for.
No. It’s not necessarily what she does, but how she does it, with a sweetness and purity of heart that is undeniable and, in this writer’s opinion, sadly lacking in so many.
My sister’s kids adore her. With the less-hands-on-but-there-nonetheless assistance of her husband, all three have grown into smart, responsible adults who I am proud to call my niece and nephews.
Her co-workers and direct reports adore her, as do customers, because she is unfailingly kind and considerate, with a well-honed ability to recognize a wounded soul.
“Kindness.” Such a simple, basic quality. Almost retro in its definition of one who is “friendly, generous and considerate.” And so sorely lacking in our fractured society where gun violence is rampant, online bullying is legion and our own politicos are fueled by vitriol and televised, partisan smack-downs.
My sister and I weren’t always as close as we are today, in that she’s ten years younger than I am. The “baby” amongst us three siblings. I am the oldest and our brother is the oft-beleaguered “middle child,” to whom we haven’t spoken in over three years. A story as old as time, regarding a rift over the “spoils” after our parents passed.
You see, our father, who had originally named our brother as executor of our parents’ estate, modest as it was, wasn’t around much during the “bad time.”
In a previous story, I talked about my parents and I having had cancer at the same time. Stage 4 lung for them, Stage 1 breast, for me. I thought then, and I still do today, that our brother was so creeped out by this, that he distanced himself from us, as if cancer was contagious, like the flu — as if he would be next.
As my sister took care of every aspect of our parent’s lives, from their incredibly complicated medical routine to their finances, our father, wisely and with my full and enthusiastic approval, switched the executorship to my sister. A smarter move was never made.
I mentioned that my sister and I are ten years apart. When we were younger and shared a bedroom, that led to some nasty catfights. I was a teenager and she was “just a kid.” We fought over everything, from the music we played to my propensity to exercising in the bedroom, while she was futzing around on her CB radio. Yes! She had one!
As the years went by, and I witnessed my sister’s joy at becoming a mother — the first two, boys and then finally, the daughter she’d always wanted — the chasm between us lessened, considerably.
Then, along the way, something truly interesting happened. I realized that my sister and I complement one another. She’s a terrific hostess, who never berates me for the fact that I generally suck at it. She’s “crafty” in that she can make things…lots of things. The other night, she dropped off a beautiful, hand-made candleholder for my husband and myself that, had I attempted such an undertaking, would probably have landed me in the ER for stitches.
My husband and I will be spending Christmas Eve at my sister’s home. It’s a huge amount of work, for her, especially with a fulltime job, so I can’t imagine where she finds the time. I’m unemployed, and can barely muster up the grit to get a store-bought, rotisserie chicken on the table most nights.
Nope. I’m not the greatest cook. The thought of hosting a holiday sends me into a tailspin of anxiety and I am not crafty. No way, no how. In fact, I’m all thumbs. That said, there is something I do that is all me. I write. I am a writer. And for that fact alone, my sister, who actually reads what I write — thinks I hung the moon and the stars.
I am thankful for my sister for so many things. Her loving spirit. Her sense of humor, even, her ability to “throw down” with the best of them. But I’m especially grateful that, when our parents were on their final journey together, she taught me to be present, and as a result, has given me the greatest gift of all: No regrets.
I hope that you have a sister or brother who has your back. No matter what. One who knows your every scar and flaw, and loves you just the same. If so, make sure you express your love for them. It’s easy. You just say it.
In spite of all my accolades, my sister isn’t perfect by any means. No one is. But to me, she’s damn close, which is why I’m proud to introduce you to her.
Meet my sister. Her name is Diane.