Do you have siblings? I have one sister, a younger sister, two years my junior. We’ve had some pretty serious discussions in the last few weeks due to our aging parents. We don’t always agree on things, but we usually hear each other out and do what we can to support one another emotionally and intellectually.
As one would expect, there have been times in our lives when we’ve been closer than other times. When we were growing up, we played together a lot. We owned quite a trove of Barbie Dolls and Chrissy Dolls, all with homemade outfits from my grandma who was an accomplished seamstress. They occupied hours of playtime when we were younger than ten. We had bikes, baby carriages, and a cat who used to tolerate us dressing him up and pushing him around in the carriage. I remember playing store, bank, and of course school (our mom was a teacher). Our yard seemed large, but it was probably only about an acre, and many evenings we played SPUD, Kick the Can, and Ghost in the Graveyard with neighborhood kids.
Sometime between the ages of ten and twelve I started leaving my sister out and made plans to play at our neighbor’s house without her. Our parents usually intervened in those plans, making sure she would be included. She was the youngest of the group. In this first house, we traversed busy roads (no sidewalks) on bikes sans helmets to the corner store where we would buy penny candy from the owner, whose name was Louie. He was a tall, imposing man who always yelled at us to “hurry-up” and make our decision at the counter. I was often my sister’s “guardian” on these trips away from our home – making sure she was safe and had some change for her chosen treats. It was the sort of thing that you really don’t let your kids do alone these days – not when they’re eight and ten, anyway.
When I was twelve and she ten, we moved to another house only 2.5 miles from the one in which we had previously lived. It was a house my parents built on five acres of land they bought from an old farmer one Sunday on a drive after church. Both neighborhoods were filled with kids but still somewhat rural. Neither house was in a subdivision. We each got our own room in the new house and that was a thrill! Instead of traversing a busy road to the corner store, we traveled a road that was still owned by the farmers to get to play at our neighbor’s house. Their family had eight children and they were always ready to play kickball, using the trees as bases. I am quite sure that both my sister and I had crushes on two of the boys (3 boys/5 girls) in that family.
It was from this house that we attended our local high school and our paths began to diverge. I was very involved in the band and my sister was involved in tennis. I quit the tennis team and she quit the band. We had our own groups of friends and rarely ran into each other socially, except maybe on Friday night for football games.
I went off to college first, being the “older” sister and two years later, she followed – literally. I went to school for nursing and my sister decided to do the same AND attend the same University. It was odd. The school was small and everyone seemed to know we were sisters. She chose to join a sorority and I remained a GDI. ( G — D— Independent). I met my husband at college, while she played the field. She got infectious mononucleosis sophomore year, and I was hardly ever ill. But, we both had the same white uniform and hat with the purple velvet stripe and got up to go to clinical by walking across a very quiet campus at 4 o’clock in the morning!
I’ve always been somewhat baffled by the decision that both of us graduated from the same College of Nursing. And, when that College of Nursing closed its doors, it affected both of us. We belonged to something that didn’t exist anymore. Stuff like that forms bonds.
Shortly after college and starting my first job, I moved to Buffalo. Several years after that, she moved to Buffalo, where she met her husband. We both pursued advanced degrees. We both became Nurse Practitioners. She stayed in nursing, while I did not. I thought I’d be a future nursing leader but that became her destiny, not mine.
I moved to the mid-west, and her husband is from the mid-west. I have three boys and she has a girl and a boy. Through all this we are sisters. We share a common experience and common traits – both good and bad. We both love our parents and are frustrated with them at the same moment.
Right now, we are close, despite living 900 miles apart. We need to be in close contact because we fear what the near future holds for the two good people who gave us a common experience, upbringing, and love. I am so glad I have a sister to call my own.