The Sister Lottery
Just this morning I learned that one of my good friends has an older sister. They’re extremely different, apparently, but mostly their value systems appear to be miles apart. “I just don’t like her and I have no respect for her,” my friend concluded.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the relationship I have with my only sibling, Kathy. I won the Sister Lottery, hands down. There is no one, no other person in the universe I’d rather have for my sister than Kathy. Well, maybe George Clooney’s wife so I could use the Lake Como place, but Kathy would agree to that in a second – that’s what a great sister she is!
As little girls we certainly had our arguments. And I did chase her under the kitchen table once. But we were really close friends, partly because our family moved quite a bit. Every year for seven years Kathy and I were the new kids in school. Ours was a tightknit family of four: Mom, Dad, Kathy and me. Sometimes the moves were to fairly exotic places like Montreal and Switzerland, so it was interesting. But still, you need a buddy when you’re in a new place and Kathy was always there. Often we shared a bedroom when I knew, as the older one, she would have preferred her own room but knew I didn’t want to be alone.
Early on, the family knew that Kathy was an incredibly caring person and she DID NOT LIE. Now that kind of perfection made it rather hard for me. She was the ideal daughter; I was just a typical kid. I played with my mom’s things without permission, didn’t make my bed, fudged the truth, tried to manipulate my parents, broke curfew, etc, etc. Kathy committed none of those sins, so of course I looked even more evil in comparison to her. I am sure there are times I was frustrated at being compared to Kath, but somehow it never translated into my disliking her. She seemed to inspire kindness by her very nature.
As time went on and we grew to be adults I saw the example Kathy provided for others and me. She set a high standard for herself, and didn’t compromise her integrity. She’s always been a great listener and very supportive of me. Besides her moral character, Kathy has always been an exceptional student – endlessly curious – and very artistic. And she’s a really good athlete. Did I mention she excels at languages AND baking? But you see I cannot be jealous of her because we love each other too much. And in a funny twist, her sweet nature has taught me not to be jealous of her.
So, does Kathy have ANY bad traits or weaknesses? Sure she does. But what kind of a sister would I be if I wrote them in this essay? I’m enormously lucky because I do respect Kath and we share the same value system. However, she will be mortified with embarrassment when she reads this. She might chase ME under the kitchen table.
As wonderful as she is, Kathy hit a new high in my mind this summer when she was visiting me with her daughter and grandchildren. After a long day at the beach, we came home and collapsed on the couch. The adults were about to have a much-deserved cocktail when Charlie, the 4 year old, came bounding into the room shouting, “Grandma! Can we go outside and play Paw Patrol soldiers?”
Without missing a beat, Kathy chimed back, “I’ll get my sword!” and ran outside with him.
I have observed this sibling miracle from a friend perspective for over 30 years now. And wow, I have to agree with everything you said about Kath. You, on the other hand, are judging yourself too harshly! (Do we *really* have to say that manipulating our parents borders on evil? Yipes, we’re all in some serious trouble.) Kath also held a winning ticket in the sibling lottery. Kudos to you both.
What a wonderful tribute to a sister who was somehow perfect without being a “goody two-shoes” about it. I love the story at the end; she sounds like the perfect grandma, too.
Thank you for the lovely comment. We’ve loved having you as part of our family.
It seems you both won the sister lottery and how great that you have each other and still love each other in such a close way today. Thanks for sharing your wonderful relationship with us.
Deb, you are so funny and such a good writer! I am lucky also to have you as a sister.