Our own kind of sisterly bond
It is without exaggeration that I say my sister Allison and I have historically not seen eye to eye. She was born two years and two days before me, although at times it has felt as though our divide could be measured in light years.I always wanted Allison to be my best friend. Looking back though, I will concede that the manner in which I tried to gain her affection was probably not the most compelling. When we were kids, I figured knocking incessantly on her bedroom door would make her want to play with me. If that didn’t work (I need to check my records, but I’m fairly sure it never did), I reasoned that chasing after her as she scurried away from me would do the trick. As a last resort, I whimpered and sobbed to my parents, thinking they could force Allison to be my play date. After all, wasn’t it their parental responsibility to coerce her into recognizing how very much I had to offer in the way of dollhouse amusement and swing set romping? Even still, my sister generally scorned most everything to which my name was attached.What little time Allison did spend with me she tended to pass meting out torture, both psychological and physical. To this day when I touch my left tricep, I can remember and almost still feel the actual pain from the dead arms that she took perverse pleasure in inflicting on me regularly.By simply being herself, Allison also made my life significantly more difficult because unlike most firstborns, she did me the distinct discourtesy of not breaking in our parents. Quite the opposite was true, actually. She was never made to adhere to a curfew because none was necessary – she was always justifiably trusted to return home at a reasonable hour. She never dated the wrong guy or ran around with a less-than reputable crowd. Grounding was a punishment that Allison never experienced. There was no point – she didn’t skip school or even a single class. Like, ever. Which means she also never knew from forged notes. Or a dismal report card. In fact, when she received any grade lower than an A, my parents had to console her. It all made my life ten times worse. I mean, coming second after the map of her life would have been a difficult course for Rand McNally to follow.Everyone kept telling me to be patient. “When she leaves home, you guys will finally get along,” they’d say. That didn’t pan out, so the line turned into, “Once you’re also in college – just wait – that’ll make all the difference in your relationship.” And then, “After you’ve both graduated you’ll connect at last.” We did, in fact, become literally closer after college, living for a few years in the same neighborhood in Manhattan and then in same building. However, even then we didn’t spend much time together.Eight years ago Allison became pregnant with her first child. And magically, after a 25-year discord that nearly rivaled the Coke and Pepsi war, her unborn child became the panacea for my brattiness and the sun that melted her aloofness. Almost overnight our glacier-sized differences were rendered irrelevant. Instead, we managed to forge our own kind of closeness and bond over the arrival of her baby.Since then, few things have brought me as much joy as being part of the lives of Allison’s children. In each of them I see bits of her – from 4-year-old Julia’s rock hard stubborn streak to 7-year-old Jacob’s bottomless curiosity to the cerulean eyes of 12-day-old Zoe – divided amongst them. The pieces of Allison that drove me mad and made me envious for eons now make my heart smile as I watch the same qualities alive in them.I look at my sister these days and instead of seeing the villainous girl who once chased me around the house brandishing a knife after I stole the orange she had just peeled, I marvel at this woman – my sister – raising with her husband three delicious kids, all of whom will be doubly blessed if they’re lucky enough to inherit even half of their mom’s intellect, grace and compassion.As a bonus, over the past several years, when I have most needed or craved a certain type of intimacy, my sister has found her way to me. Through phone calls, birthday cards, knowing looks or impromptu chats at the kitchen table, we have carved out our own sisterhood niche. A little later in life, a new paradigm for our relationship has been created. Quietly, slowly and purposefully, she has become the sister, and friend, I had always hoped to know.Charles Schulz wasn’t entirely wrong when he said that big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life. But ultimately, the fact remains that Allison and I will always be flowers from the same garden. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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