“A younger sister is someone to use as a guinea-pig in trying sledges and experimental go-carts. Someone to send on messages to Mum. But someone who needs you – who comes to you with bumped heads, grazed knees, tales of persecution. Someone who trusts you to defend her. Someone who thinks you know the answers to almost everything ”
Perhaps it’s only my opinion but it seems to me that when God breathes life into families, He creates family members who complement each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Some take after one parent and some the other. My sister, the eldest, took after my father. She was decisive, organized, energetic, so obviously, a do-er. I was more reserved like my mother, not as decisive, disorganized, and a reader. Through the years, I have come to value our differences. We also grew to have some similar traits, most notably a high energy levels though we poured them into different activities.
Growing up, I constantly tagged along with her and her friends. A few years ago, I heard a song from those long ago days. One of the lines went, “You’re just a dumb head, dumb head, stupid little girl…” It made me laugh. I’m sure that’s what she thought about me clinging to her, like a shadow. The truth is, I have tagged along with her and her friends my whole life. She’s always been full of fun, lively and on-the-go. I didn’t want to miss anything!
My sister is pretty special to me. I’d like to highlight a few of the wonderful moments that we have shared together.
1. My Camp Counselor:
My sister and I attended Camp Agape, a church camp in upstate New York.
The year she turned 16, she became a counselor–of my cabin! At 12, I couldn’t think of anything worse than having my sister be in charge of me away from home!
Looking back, I was likely placed in her cabin on purpose but at 12, at first I thought it was pretty awful. But she was so creative that I ended up enjoying it. The last evening, with my sister’s permission, my entire cabin snuck out at midnight and went to the flagpole. We met some other campers, too–some of them cute boys. My sister said, “Keep a low profile, and don’t stay out too long.” Flouting the rules was, of course, the coolest ever!
2. Her Wedding Day:
Carolyn chose my brothers to be her ushers and me to be her maid of honor. I was thrilled at the request, though I didn’t have any competition since I was the only sister she had. I didn’t tell her but I was scared to death to mess it up when my moment came to walk down the church aisle. It was years before my vision difficulties were diagnosed, and I thought with my clumsiness, I’d trip over something. But I didn’t. And whenever I remember how she chose me, I still feel honored.
3. Steak and Shrimp Night
Even as newlyweds, Carolyn and her husband, Dave, wanted to include family in their lives. I loved to cook but my mother was particular about her kitchen. “Cook a meal for us one night,” Dave said. “You can cook anything you want at our place. We’ll pay for all the ingredients. The only restriction is you have to prepare everything and clean up afterwards.” After pouring through my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook, I chose steak and shrimp cocktail. I’d never made either before and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t cook the shrimp long enough or de-vein it properly but what a thrill it was when the night arrived!
The cocktail sauce for the shrimp turned out to have just the right zing and the steak was cooked to perfection.
(Dave must have broken the rule and helped me a little with that). Somewhere in an album that meal is immortalized.
4. Niagara Falls trip
After returning from Colombia where I taught for two years, the 5th grade teacher originally from Chicago visited me. Dave, Carolyn and I took him to Niagara Falls. As a real treat, we crossed over to the Canadian side of the Falls. Though it was in the middle of winter and freezing, we rode the Maid of the Mist under the Falls. We laughed so hard when returned to the United States, the immigration officials stopped the car and peered inside. “Citizen?” he asked. Joe shook his head vigorously up and down, meaning, “yes.” But, actually, the officer wanted to know which country we were citizens of.
Joe nodded vigorously, “Yes!” he said with conviction to the officer.
I still laugh when I remember the misunderstanding.
5. Guest Lecturer
When I returned from Japan, I brought an entire carry-on bag of food with me–gorgeous square jellies in beautiful boxes, green tea, little squares of seaweed, and even dried squid! My sister arranged for me to talk to her daughters’ classes about Japanese customs. They were in first and second grades, respectively. My sister set up the food table in the back of the classroom. The kids would try it after my talk. I wore a colorful festival jacket, typically worn by the street cooks and origami earrings. During my talk, I taught the kids how to write their names in katakana, the Japanese alphabet for foreign words. The kids just ate that up, so to speak! What I remember most was my sister’s enthusiasm. She was serving food at the table, encouraging reluctant children to try the seaweed and dried squid.
“This squid tastes just like chicken! It’s really good.”
It was a magical day, and one that my nieces still love to talk about and they’re grown up. My sister brought it all together.
These are just a few of the special memories I share with my sister. We do complement each other in the best possible way now. I brought the world home to her. But she brought me the home I’d missed.
Could I be any more blessed?