A few days ago my youngest daughter posted to my oldest daughter, “You’re the bestest sister EVER!” What a sweet blessing for a mom to see; as a sister, what a sweet reminder.
“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”
Marian C. Garretty
“Sibling relationships - and 80 percent of Americans have at least one - outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.”
Erica E. Goode
When one sibling says to the other, “Remember when…” it becomes an invocation of clandestine moments shared by a sacred sect known as siblings; a reeling journey to days gone by. Some, which seemed so hideous then, now become quite hilarious.
Sister, remember when I ‘kinda’ out grew my little mini piano and my Dr. Seuss book collection so I gave them to you? You thought I was giving you my ‘junk’ when actually I was giving you ‘treasures’. Several months later, while I was babysitting the neighbor’s kids, they brought out a stack of Dr. Seuss books for me to read. “Where did you get these?” I asked.
“Your sister gave them to us and she gave us this piano too.”
I’d like those back as well as my Barbie’s, please. Remember when you took my Barbie’s over to your friends house? You knew you’d have them back before I would notice them even gone; after all I no longer played with them. It was months later when I looked in my Barbie box did I find one with her hair wacked off and the other; the one with the pull string in the back of her neck which made her talk, she was missing a limb. Her leg had been chewed off by your best friend’s dog (maybe that was an omen) along with her pink flower shaped plastic pull attached to the string which made her talk.
Oh, it was all probably a bit of unconscious pay back. When you were really little, remember when I wanted to ‘style’ your hair? You had such fine, baby hair. I tied it up in rags knowing it would come out so beautiful. When I went to untie the rags I discovered I had actually tied your fine hair into little knots. I had to keep covering your mouth each time you were going to cry when I ‘accidentally’ pulled your hair while brushing out the knots; gosh there were a lot of knots. Finally, you bit my hand which made me ‘accidentally’ rip out a tuff of hair (yes it left a bald spot) then I bopped you on the head with the brush. Oh man, you took off crying then and I ended up in so much trouble. However, neither you nor I learned our lesson. I ‘styled’ your hair several times after that, each time with similar results. I believe its sisters like me which inspired the hair styling mannequin head toy. Yeah, they never went screaming to Mom when things got a little ouchy.
Remember when you used to chase me around the house with the fly swatter? I hated that! One time I locked you in the garage and you took a hammer of Dad’s and started ‘hammering’ down the door. Mom and Dad weren’t very happy when they got home.
They also weren’t happy when they found out that you and I wanted to be like Mary Poppins. We knew our little umbrellas had magical powers which would make us fly. It was all okay until I decided since jumping up and down from the ground wasn’t sending us in flight that we should do it from the car roof. I told you to climb up on to the top of the car roof so you could go first. This is when Dad got a bit upset, yeah, who knew he’d walk out when I said, “Jump, it’s okay you have my umbrella, I’m sure you’ll fly.”
Speaking of Mary Poppins; do you remember your huge, zebra striped, bag as large as and as full as Mary Poppins’ carpet bag? After I got home from the hospital, Jeff knew I’d need help at the house. When we were thinking of who we could employ, there was only one person I wanted; it was you, sis; who else? Anyway, one day, after we got all the kids to school we decided to go on a shopping adventure; one of our first; you, me, my wheelchair. When we got home, we decided to pile all the bags including your Mary Poppins bag on my lap and you’d push me up to the house. I was piled so high, I couldn’t see, and you thought it would be fun to run with me. Oh, and fun it was, whoo hoo, really, until we hit a bump in the yard. Yikes, all the bags flew off my lap; all the contents of the bags, which were once on my lap, flew out; including your Mary Poppins bag along with it’s unbelievable amount of contents. Then I flew out of my wheelchair (where’s the umbrella when you need it). Once we knew I wasn’t bleeding, I laughed until I cried and you cried until you laughed. There we were, both of us in tears, sprawled out in my front yard along with the contents of five grocery bags and your amazingly full zebra striped carpet bag. Neighbors drove by waving bearing one of those odd smiles, as if to say under their breath, “It’s the crazy sisters at the Frehner’s again, just smile and wave.”
I remember when, one day I was having such a hard time with the loss of my legs and the struggle to figure out my new way of life. I looked up at you from my wheelchair, not having to say anything and you responded, “It’s okay sis, you can cry and I’ll hug you.” And you did just that. There have been many times in my life I’ve had to reflect on that moment; I’ve needed know it’s okay to cry and you’d be there to hug me through.
Do you remember the day you said to me, “If I knew this was going to happen to you, I’d been a lot nicer to you growing up.”
And I said, “If I knew this was going to happen to me, I’d be a lot nicer to you too.”
The day of Jeff’s funeral, you brought your flask of Jack and a box of Princess Disney tissues. I never told you, but I remember when we were little, Mom and Dad took us to Disneyland, I didn’t want to hold your little hand there, but this particular day, Jeff’s funeral, I was grateful for your hand to hold; for your hand which held the box of Princess Disney tissues and offered a shot of Jack.
You held my hand and helped me walk into the first big social affair after Jeff’s passing. We held each other’s hand through Grandma and Grandpa’s funerals.
I remember when I would hold your hand and not let go, even when you tugged hard to pull away, as we walked down Jones Boulevard on summer evenings to meet Dad at the bus stop. I remember holding your as we gathered around Dad’s hospital bed and prayed; we held hands while he took his last breath and we held hands throughout Dad’s funeral.
We’ve defended each other fiercely, even if it was against one of our own children or husbands. And we defended each other’s children and husbands even when they may have been in the wrong. We were there for the birth of our children, we were there for long visits to emergency rooms, we were there, even when we weren’t there.
We’ve been through loves, losses, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, celebrations, tears, laughter, dogs, cats, kids, husbands, graduations, whew, we’ve been through together and together we will go through. We will have many more ‘remember when’s’. We are sisters, as different as we are, sisters we will remain.
I love you more than you could ever imagine and I know you love me; even when we don’t much like each other. We have always created magic together and probably always will. When I hold your hand I am holding the hand of a goddess. I know your tender heart, your strong will, your amazing spirit; I know your potential. We carry each other’s secrets and will take them with us when we cross over. However, I can’t imagine crossing over without having your hand to hold or at least your umbrella, or your flask of Jack, or a box of Princess Disney tissues. I do know when we’re both on the other side we will still be sisters and we’ll have many more, “Remember when’s…?”