Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby Sister

I can't ever remember a time without her. 41 years ago, my parents brought a tiny baby home and introduced me, still a baby myself, to my little sister. I don't remember life without her, so as far as I'm concerned, she has been here my entire life.

Her job, although I was two years older than she, was to protect me. She protected me at night, kept my piggies safe from the big bad wolf, and everything else that goes bump in the night. As family lore tells it, she kept me safe from most things that go bump in the day, too.  She was always the brave one. She kept our room clean, let me sleep with her when I was scared, and took care of me when I got sick in the night.

Although she's younger, it seems like I've always lived in her shadow. She did everything better than me. She cleaned house better (I regret I never got the urge). She made better grades. The teachers liked her better. She had more friends. She was better with the boys. She managed her money better.

She definitely snuck out better, as our mother discovered late one summer evening when she came in and found me tucked safely in my bed, with my sister nowhere to be seen. It was some hours later when my sister snuck back in and tried to slide between her covers, only to find Mom laying there, mad as a wet hen, and I'm certain just as disappointed. I don't think I made it any easier for my sister when I tried to console my mom by telling her, "don't worry, she does this all the time."  Oopsie.

My sister saved me from some terrible decision making when she drug me off to college with her before what should have been my junior year. We lived together for years after, laughing hysterically as only sisters can do. I will never forget one morning as we were reading the paper, when she asked me with a quizzical look on her face what in the world a "toe-aster" pastry was.  "Toaster pastry?"  I replied.  I will never look at a pop-tart without thinking of us, sitting at our kitchen table, laughing until tears rolled down our faces.

The Toe-Aster pastry is just as funny as the time we came home together in her car.  She drove a stick shift, and for some reason, I was driving that night. We'd just driven three hours with a squirmy puppy in the car and were rounding third base headed for home when I exited the freeway and inconveniently forgot to downshift.  The car lurched wildly, my sister frantically held on to the puppy, trying to tell me what to do, while, I, confused as hell, hysterically yelled, "This is not my car!" as I tried to avoid killing either us or the car. Good times indeed.

For some reason, despite the fact she seemed better at most things than I, she often turned to me for advice growing up.  I always gave it. Some of it good, some of it not so much. When she had a big decision to make about her career a few years ago, she called me and we talked for a long time about it. It struck me as odd that she, stuck between the offer of a partnership at her CPA firm and an offer to be a CFO, called me to discuss her options. After all, she's the one who did my taxes, and she knew damn well what tax bracket I fell in. It seemed ironic to me at the time that she was asking me for advice when either of the two jobs she had in front of her paid many, many, many times what I brought in.

My sister has made the decision to come walk the 3-day Komen walk with me in November. Under duress, I might add, as I spent an entire day convincing her that she can, indeed, raise the minimum necessary to walk. It took me two months to raise my money; it took her just about a day. And she is now the #1 fundraiser in the Dallas-Fort Worth walk.  Not by much, but by God, she's at the top of the list.

When I congratulated her yesterday, she said she was proud, too, but knowing that I was proud of her meant even more. It dawned on me then that I've never said I'm proud of her. I think sisters are like an old married couple. So many things are left unsaid because you just know the other person knows what you're thinking.

So, here you go, Adnohr.

I am so proud of the child you were and the grown up you've become. I am proud you left a miserable relationship that was eating you up to marry a really, really terrific guy who loves you and supports you. I am proud of the ridiculous amount of money that you make and the stunning home you own. I'm proud of your expensive toys, although most of them frighten me to some degree. I am proud of the support you give the people you love and the sacrifice you're making to walk with me in November. I am ridiculously proud that you've raised over $10,000 to eradicate breast cancer forever, when you were worried you couldn't raise two grand.

I'm proud that you're well read and interesting and fun to be around. I'm proud to be the sister of the life of the party. I'm proud you take care of yourself and those around you, even when the ones around you make it hard sometimes. Your sense of family and purpose are astounding at times, and that makes me proud.

I think all sisters love each other, by default, because that's what we're supposed to do. But it's another thing entirely to hold your sister in high esteem, to love her and honor her.  They say pride is a sin, but I'm not buying it.

So, Little Sister, today is for you. I love you and I am so so proud of you! 

ps - I didn't buy a card. Again.


Cathy said...

Love it! Sisters are indeed special.

Nell E. Belle said...

Lady Steele,

On Sunday and Monday, you graced us with honor and respect that none of my family will ever forget, especially my dad. You made time and energy when I'm sure there was no surplus that served the good hearts of *your* entire family, namely your dad.

Today you have done what so many of us forget to do and share your adoration and respect for someone with whom you have shared such continuous dialog. Thank you, this is one of my favorite habits to break as well--there are power in numbers.

So here's one for you: thanks for being the good-angel cousin on my shoulder that guides me the way only an *upper* would know how. And, equally important, being the one with guts and the gall to laugh, cry and even tease the world into not letting anything go to our heads...she may be on my other shoulder at times sticking her tongue out at the former. That's what makes you fun!

Rhonda said...

No better birthday card than this, Einahpets....thank you so very much. I guess like old married couples, I do inherently know, but you should also know how many tears it brings to my eyes to read your always spot-on eloquence...its been a long time since I heard "I'm proud of you, Peanut"--who'da thunk he would speak through you?!

I love you!!

M--- said...

I hate you and your sister both. How dare you make me teary on a Thursday afternoon when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Dammit.
Okay, I admit. I'm just jealous. Because I'm an only child and have always envied the bonds of sisters like the two of you embody.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SISTER OF LADY STEELE! How lucky the two of you are to have each other, and how lucky am I that I can witness the goodness.

Beverly said...

No mother could be more proud of her daughters than I am. I do wish your dad could be here to enjoy the wonderful women you are!
I love you, Mom