My sister Susan was born 14 months after me on March 8, 1962. I’m sure that I was not happy to have the competition for my parent’s affection, but I’m also sure that I was thrilled to have a partner in crime. Two is always merrier than one, I say. And, we were definitely two peas in a pod.
I remember our shared bedroom in the house I grew up in on Hunstock Road. We had a closet with those beads that were so popular in the 60s as a pseudo-door. Barbies littered our bedroom before Barbie became a marketer’s dream. Susan, early on, loved baby dolls and babies. I didn’t get it. They were okay, but I’d just as soon go play baseball with my brothers and hit them over the head with a bat…it was an accident, I promise. 🙂 Susan and I would spend hours upon hours with those Barbies.
I barely had room in the bed to sleep. Susan had stuffed animals and dolls lined up all across the bed like a little sleeping army. And, she did not want me to move them. It was just part of the reality of living with Susan. One of the things I’ve come to know about my sister is she has a phenomenal memory. She can remember outings we took as a family that I don’t even vaguely recall. She remembers them with such clarity that she can tell you the weather, what I wore and what she wore and what was said. It just amazes me. Of course, it could easily all be made up because I don’t remember a thing, and she does have an amazing imagination. She’s actually a much better writer than I am because of her attention to detail and her story-telling talent. I keep trying to get her to blog.
As teenagers, we were hell on wheels. Because we were so close in age, we had mutual friends, and we all hung out together. Having a partner in crime really paid off at that time. When you have two great teenage minds, you’ve got trouble. We got into it. We reveled in it. Another thing we had in common was great knockers. Yes, Robbie Harrison, I said it. Teenage girls aren’t stupid. We know that’s a perk. My sister’s husband, Gary, said it best when he told Susan that it wasn’t that they were so big, it’s just that they were so “nice.” And, that comes from somebody with hands-on experience – pun intended. I don’t know how or where we got them because Momma wasn’t endowed in that way, but I know we came by it honestly because Susan’s daughter is gifted, too.
We’ve had our ins and outs over the years. We were total opposites in tastes, preferences and styles. When you’re little kids, it’s fun and easy to be two peas in a pod, but when you get older, you want to make your own way, and we navigated that splitting with more than a few bumps. We each had our own lives to live throughout the years. We’ve been close at times, and, at times, farther apart. In the last 10 years, we’ve both really worked hard at building an adult friendship, and I’m really happy about that. Susan brings a history with her that no one else shares with me. She also brings a stabilizing presence to my life. It’s become a habit for me when I move (and I’ve done that dozens of times) to sit on the floor of the empty dwelling and call her. She always says, “What are you doing?” I say, “Sitting on the floor in my empty house, and then I start to cry, letting go of the memories that I built in that residence.” “I know, I’ve been thinking about you,” she’ll say. It’s become a bit of a routine. She, of course, has a child who is perfectly wonderful, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of her life. We always joke that Hannah is really my child that I gave her at birth. But, I know I wouldn’t have been able to raise such a fabulous woman. Motherhood was my sister’s gift.
It’s been a pleasure to see Susan grow up. She’s been with me for 51 years on this planet. Other than the one with my parents, it’s the longest relationship of my lifetime. I’ve watched her go back to college in her 40s and get a degree so that she can do what she’s always loved, teaching and loving on children. I’ve watched her passion for writing and learning grow. I’ve watched her with her beautiful daughter and admired her commitment to her growth. I’ve watched her navigate the normal marital problems and ups and downs with grace. I am so happy to call her my sister….my friend….Happy Birthday, Susan!! I wish I could be there to blow out the candles on your cake.