A few weeks ago, my bestie celebrated another trip around the sun. This friend whom I admire and whose company I so thoroughly enjoy also happens to be my sister.
Australian poet and author Pam Brown has written this about sisters:
"An older sister is a friend and defender – a listener, conspirator, a counsellor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too.”
As youngsters, we had little to do with each other. She is third-born and was part of the “big kids” half of the family. As sixth-born, I was way down the line.
But she taught me how to sew clothes with our mother’s old Singer, how to chain-stitch and make French knots so I could embroider knee patches for my worn-out, hand-me-down jeans (hey, it was the 70s). Later, how to needlepoint so I could make holiday stockings for my own babies. She hooked rugs, knitted scarves and sweaters, and possessed talent with paintbrush, pencil, and pastel that I admired and envied. Today, she continues to practice as a fine artist, a talent handed down through generations from our “Sunday painter” great-grandmother. She also channels our grandmother’s talent as a quilter, creating beautiful covers that combine both her needlework skills and her painterly vision. We share a love of textiles, fine needlework, color, pattern, flea markets, vintage charm, good deals, and good wine.
My sister (left) and me atop Wayah Bald in North Carolina
She has been my go-to confidante and counsellor many times, in matters both small and large. Getting advice on paint colors or room designs. Buying a new major appliance (her husband digs research). Buying a new house. Seeking advice for a special-needs child (she was a special ed teacher and a K-8 principal). Bolstering confidence for a cross-country move. Or a new job. Or a new business.
As the poet Ms. Brown notes, we have shared sorrows, too, while partnering to care for terminally ill family members and while grieving those we have lost.
The 1400 miles between my home near Boulder, Colorado, and her mountain home near Asheville, North Carolina, have done nothing to diminish our bond. Between phone calls, texts, email, Facebook and visits several times a year we stay in step with each other’s lives.
Happiest of birthdays, dear sister. I am who I am because of you.
Author's Note: The featured image of alphabet blocks shows my birthday gift to my sister. She collects them. I couldn't resist these when I found them at Lafayette Collectibles and Flea Market, and I played with them for a few hours before finally mailing them off to her, arranged just as you see them here.