My Sister…My Friend
Today is my sister’s birthday. She totally loves birthdays. I reckon she would be overjoyed to wake up in a room full of balloons, with a treasure hunt waiting to be discovered, a party hat on her side table, and a birthday cake for breakfast. Yep – she’s a big kid at heart!
My sister is 6 years older than me.
I always thought that was just the biggest age gap ever heard of! Of course it’s not! And I started realising that a few years ago when people would ask me who was older! I chose to take that as a sign of my maturity and her youthful energy, rather than as a sign of her immaturity and my crows-feet!
I am the youngest of three children (yes, yes I see you all nodding with understanding – the “baby” of the family tends to have certain assumptions made about them, and for the most part they are probably true!). My brother and sister were very close when we were growing up. I often felt like the third wheel – never really understanding their jokes or shenanigans. It wasn’t until this year (after this post) that she told me how much she remembers about my arrival into the family, and how much she loved looking after me and having a little sister.
I ended up going to a different high school to my siblings – it was in the city and meant I had to grow up and take on responsibility very quickly. My sister, by this stage, had finished school and now worked in the city, so we often travelled on the same bus into town together.
She tucked me under her wing and this is when our relationship really blossomed. At an age when most young women are wanting to exert their independence, my sister would go out of way to introduce me to her friends, bring me along on her adventures, and included me in her life in many ways. We shared mostly everything, and I looked up to her for so many reasons. I learned kindness, and patience and respect from her. She let me cry on her shoulder, and protected me as only a big sister can.
And then she upped and truly flew the nest. All the way to America! She did quite a lot of travelling, before working at Summer Camps and then she became a nanny to a little boy for a number of years. In truth, I felt like she had abandoned me. Of course, I can look back now and think she did nothing of the sort, but there it was. And while she was away, I grew up. Just like that. It was possibly one of the most challenging times for us as sisters – we sent letters to each other (yes that’s how old we are – no email!), but I felt like we had lost that bond… that closeness.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her, to come home and her baby sister wasn’t a baby anymore – I had finished high school and was heading off to uni. I had gotten on with my life, I had a new circle of friends, and I think she kind of expected me to be the same person I was when she had left all those years ago. I think it was hard for both of us.
Today I am grateful for that time apart. I think it allowed us to get to know each other again as adults – two people with so much in common, and yet different in so many ways. My sister is relaxed and easy going; I am constantly on alert and looking ahead to what’s next. She is incredibly generous and donates many many hours to charity groups such as The Smith Family and The Australian Red Cross. When Queensland was hit by the catastrophic floods last year, she was one of the first to volunteer and help co-ordinate at shelters, even though her own apartment had been so badly affected that she needed to move in with us for a few days.
My sister loves my children *almost* as much as I do. She loves playing the “fun aunty” but is also a huge support in attending special events, volunteering at the school, and helping me with school runs when I have to be in two places at once. I trust her to love and care for my children, and I am so grateful to have that support. I know that no matter what, she will always be there for my family, as I will be for her.
One of my favourite stories of my sister is when I was in hospital after having Lucy. I seem to always react to the heavy duty pain killers (after a caesarian), with the side effect being the dreaded itch. Oh – it would drive me up the wall! It was so bad that I felt like I wanted to tear at my skin, and it was from head to toe! My sister arrived with my Mum to see Lucy – my beautiful, perfect, newborn baby. As Mum gently nursed my brand new baby, do you know what my sister did? She carefully removed my stocking from my legs… and gently scratched and massaged my feet! For the entire visit! I cannot describe the feeling of utter relief – physically and mentally – that this gave me.
I realised after she had left that she hadn’t even held Lucy – not once! She had devoted her entire time to making sure I was comfortable, and rested, and loved. Such a small thing, but it spoke volumes about her and her kindness. I know how much she would have loved to sit and snuggle with Lucy, but she didn’t. I wonder if she will ever know how much that one simple act of kindness has been ingrained forever in to my mind… and heart.
So why I have written this? Well I suck at buying birthday presents, so I hope that this might buy me a few more days to get something sorted!
Happy Birthday, Big Sister!
I am so lucky to be able to call you my friend.