Friday, June 22, 2007
May the Road "Rise" to Meet You......
It was the longest day of summer, June 21 st., my sister’s birthday. Six years is a gaping chasm when you’re fourteen and she’s eight, so we weren’t that close growing up. When I was twenty two and she was sixteen, I blithely wandered off to the other side of the world and the rest of my life.
She was a beautiful bridesmaid and I an immature bride. Love conquers all,“they” say. “They” neglected to mention that when SHE got married I might not be able to be there. “They” didn’t mention that when I had my first child, I’d miss sharing the magic with her, of watching her hold her first tiny niece. Nor that, if you stuck a skewer through the middle of the globe, we’d be living, respectively, where it went in, and where it came out again, when HER first child was born. That her children and mine would grow up strangers. Of course if I’d had half a brain I’d have figured a lot of this out for myself. But I didn’t, so I didn’t.
It was death, of all things, that brought us closer. First our dad’s, and ten years later our mum’s. We began to see each other as real people. Grown up people. Mothers ourselves.
The OC got assigned to Germany. He went on ahead while we stopped in Ireland. And had a great time, in spite of piddling rain, which made us so desperate, down by the sea, with a house full of energetic kids, that we even taught the BOYS how to knit!
Several years later we were back in Europe, this time in Belgium. We went to Ireland. Rise came to Brussels. Each time I realized, a little more, how much this little sister meant to me. That little kid I used to be so mean to, devising elaborate plots to dodge her when she wanted to play with me and my friends. I couldn’t remember those friends' faces anymore, but more and more, hers was the face I wanted to see. Who would’ve thunk [take your complaints to Merriam-Webster] we’d get another chance?
Without my even noticing it, her’s became the shoulder I cried on when life threw me curve balls. She can make me laugh while I’m still crying. Some wicked Rise wit, some sane Rise philosophy, a little dose of Rise comedy when the world gets you down....it was like a drug, and I was a full blown addict. She’s had tough times herself, and toughed it out, without any help from me. And become a wise, thoughtful, caring woman who I'd count myself lucky to stumble on as a friend, if we never had the good fortune to be related.
I don’t lead a charmed life. It’s pretty good, pretty average. But in the sister sweepstakes I hit the jackpot. I could have been an only child, or had only brothers, or, like Cinderella, had two ugly stepsisters. How many people come into your life who love and accept you, just the way you are? No, you can’t have her, but if you ever meet her, I’ll share. Just remember whose sister she is.
Yesterday was her birthday, the longest day of the year. She’s still six years younger than me. One woman we met, on our recent adventures said “Wait, wait, don’t tell me! Mother and daughter, right?” Not a woman I’d care to get to know any better, sniff. Should have whacked her with my cane.... Maybe it’s because my hair is au naturel, while hers is, ahem, enhanced! She soothed my ruffled feathers, when she finally stopped her delighted cackling, by saying it was too bad she wasn’t quick enough to reply, ”Yes, and isn’t mum looking great for her eighty years?”
In spite of little irritations like this, I no longer devise elaborate plots to give her the slip. Because I’m too busy figuring out how we can spend more time together. Now that our various children are more or less grown, we have a cunning plan to get together more often. When she goes home I’ll suffer for a while from the empty chair at the breakfast table. Coffee and tea won’t seem quite as delicious without her. I’ll miss the gleam in her eye that tells me she knows exactly what I’m thinking, before I even open my mouth. But I won’t start weeping just yet. I’m having too much fun. Happy Birthday Rise, me darlin’!