I come from a family of five children raised in the 1960’s and 70’s. I am in the exact middle of
the five, with an older sister and brother and two younger brothers. My
only sister, Kathy is the oldest in the family and we are three years apart. We are alike in as many ways as we are different, but we are sisters and that means something, including that we were each other’s first girlfriends and we learned about life, fashion, relationships, boys, and dreams from each other and we always had a closeness that only sisters would understand.
We were each other’s first sleep over buddies as we shared a room while growing up, and we shared clothes and learned how to get along and how to treat others. We played Barbies, house, dress up and we did each other’s hair. We almost always got along, other than one fight that involved kicking each others bikes and some hair pulling. We learned very early from each other, that we did not like fighting and of course we were given a penalty by our mother of picking all of the strawberries in the strawberry patch for our misbehavior, which was a hateful job. My mother was very clever, because having to do the hateful job together for hours, brought us closer together. By the end, we were laughing and throwing strawberries at each other, all in good fun and so we would have less to clean.
As we got into high school and college, we shared clothes and I visited her on campus, and we even went on a double date. We confided in one another and we sought advice on everything from our college plans, to guys and dating. She would come home on weekends from her college and we knew some of the local guys. Don’t tell our mother, but a common activity was parking in the gravel pits. I went with a date one time when Kathy was home. We had been at the bars, her with her friends and me with mine and we each knew the other was out. It was common after the bars closed to continue the party at the gravel pits. It was more of a party place than a place to be alone with a date. When we would get to the gravel pits there were other cars and it became a social event talking with others. My date pulled up to another car to talk to his buddy before we joined the bonfire going on at the pits. I leaned over to see who his buddy was with and it was Kathy. We both laughed and did not say a word, of course until we got home and then we had a good laugh. True story, so don’t deny it Kathy!!
Kathy married a really nice guy and moved to Ortonville, and I moved to the cities after college.
Even though it was hard and even though sometimes we went weeks without contact, we managed even when we were busy raising kids and building our careers to stay close. We called each other when we needed to, but even when we did not have contact for periods of time, we knew the other was there for us anytime we needed a confidant or just someone to listen. We still relied upon each other for that sisterly advice and to gain support or an honest opinion.
After being a nurse for a few years, I decided to take the LSAT and go to law school, and Kathy was the first person in my family that I told. I told her first to have a respected opinion before I told my parents. I think I needed reassurance that I was not crazy to pursue this career especially since I was entering law school, having never even met an attorney. It was a way to test to see if she thought the idea was crazy. She did not know it at the time, but my career and future may have depended in part on her reaction. I respected her opinion and wanted some input from someone who knew me the best of anyone in the world. Had she said anything to make me think I was out of my mind to think I wanted to go to law
school, I may have rethought the idea. In true sister fashion, she was one hundred percent supportive. She started with “If that is what you want, you go for it.” And she was supportive in telling me she believed in my ability to handle the challenge. She always knew what to say and she knew how to be supportive.
As we have aged, we have grown even closer. We have called each other with worries about our kids or now with our parents, and we provide each other that listening ear and advice. We are now both empty nesters, and Kathy has an early retirement as a teacher. This gives her more time to come visit and plan for our sister fun. In the last few years we have become concert buddies, going to Billy Joel, the Eagles, Madonna and Fleetwood Mac. She usually buys the tickets online, as she is good at watching and buying at just the right time to get the good seats, and then comes to my house to stay and we get dressed up and make an event of it. It is so much fun, we take selfies and post on Facebook, and we dance and clap to music that was popular when we were in college. We reminisce about our college days and we catch up on our lives and our kid’s lives.
We have also gotten together at the lake house for a little sister bonding time. We went paddle boarding, kayaking and biking. It is so nice having a sister who enjoys the same things I enjoy, and it is different being with a sister than a friend. Friends are great, but a sister is special. A sister will support and encourage you even if your dreams may be far fetched, but a sister will also be brutally honest if that dress makes you look like a grandma, in a bad way.
Kathy has worked really hard to be in top physical shape. She is an inspiration with her competitive running and daily bike rides. I need to emulate that more, as I sit behind a desk too much of the time. I had a great bike ride with her a few weeks ago. I had always poked fun at bike riders who wear lycra. I do trail rides and while I can ride easily for 25 miles and have done 50 miles many times, I had taken pride in the fact that I do not wear lycra.
On this particular ride with Kathy, she broke out the riding shorts with the gel padded seat and put them on for our anticipated 25 mile ride. I laughed, because that is what sisters do and she told me in that big sister voice that she brought a pair for me to try. I said I was not wearing those, because they make my butt look big. She said, in a very matter of fact way, “What do you care, you’re not for sale anyway.” (Referring to the fact that I am married and have been for almost 30 years). A good point and one I had not really thought about. “Besides…” she said, “who sees you on the bike trail anyway?” Another very good point. She was always the smarter of the two of us. She was so right, but I have to say I was hesitant at the utility of the shorts in relationship to the butt magnitude. Well it only took a few miles to appreciate what I have been missing for years. The bike shorts were awesome and it not only made the ride better and smoother, but I could go a lot more miles without discomfort. I admitted to her that she was once again right, and then in true sisterly fashion, she had not only convinced me that the shorts were awesome, she took that extra step to buy me some on her way back home through St. Cloud and mail them to me. That is a sister!!
I have always been close to my family. I have wonderful brothers and have great parents. I am lucky to have close friends and to have stayed close to many of my cousins and extended family, but a bond with your sister is like no other. I have only one sister and maybe that affects my perspective, but a sister is unique. The bond between sisters is not like any other. We do not need to talk to each other every day or even every week, but we know the other is always there and would drop everything we are doing if the other needed help. We share experiences together and enjoy each other’s company. We confide in each other and look to the other for advice, comfort and sometimes just to listen. I have been lucky to have a sister in my life and to share the sister love!