Sibling rivalry was not an issue for me when I was growing up. Not that I was so angelic that I skipped it, but there are 8.5 years between my older sister and me. When I started kindergarten, she was experiencing teenage challenges. Likely I was a nuisance to her, although I was charmed with her. While I didn’t have the vocabulary then to describe it, she was organized, neat, well-behaved and someone I really liked. When I was old enough to be a contributing family member, as in help with the dishes, we began arguing. Much to her dismay now, I reminded her about our mother telling her she could be nicer to me. She doesn’t remember that at all, she says.
We shared a very large bedroom and I enjoyed her company. Looking back I realize she likely would have preferred privacy or at least sharing space with someone not so enamored with her possessions as I was. A year after graduating from high school, she married. Her fiancé was exceedingly kind to me and fun to be around. But standing on the church steps after the wedding, it suddenly occurred to me how very much I would miss her. My 10-year-old self didn’t feel it was proper to cry publicly so I chased the tears away. That night my anticipated joy at having my own room lost all its appeal and tears flowed freely.
Thirteen months later, my sister and brother-in-law were elevated to royal status after introducing me to my newborn niece. Being an aunt was thrilling and such an honor. Four years later, my nephew arrived. My love for both of them was beyond measure. My sister and I have never lived in the same city since 1961 when they left Peoria and moved to Northern Virginia where my brother-in-law began his Air Force career. I have visited them in the Philippine Islands, Texas and frequently in Virginia.
Some people believe a close relationship requires close proximity. I don’t find that to be true, although it could be convenient. My sister and I often wonder if we’d get along as well as we do if we lived closer to each other. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to test that situation.
She celebrates her 80th birthday this month, and we are both amazed that such a milestone happened so quickly and grateful for the reality of it. We love to laugh together, and we can laugh at what some people call “nothing.” Neither of us ever felt that our parents had favorites, and we both believe we were always treated fairly. Jealously was never an obstacle in our love for each other. Ours is a small family, and we often wonder who will answer family questions after one of us dies. Now we ask each other all sorts of details about our parents and other relatives who have passed away, and like most people our age, wonder why we didn’t ask more questions when they were alive. And while we don’t worry about it as such, we know the surviving sister will experience great sadness when the other one is gone.
But for now, it’s party time as I wish my sister a happy 80th and many more good times shared together!