Today is my sister’s Birthday. It’s a BIG one – so BIG that it deserves a blog to honor it.
I don’t remember a time when Sheila was not a part of my life.
My earliest memory – or perhaps a story that has been told the most – was of me feeding her sand. Actually, I think it’s a Masson myth, but I’ll go with it.
For a long time Sheila and I were one unit. She was my best friend – even when I had a best friend. We shared everything. When Mom and Dad tried to give me my own room, Sheila ended up creeping in and sleeping with me. It just felt weird not to have her there.
I remember playing “hospital” after her return from an overnight stay for a broken bone. We poked her doll’s eye out giving her a shot, but she continued to drag that doll around until at least Jr. High school. I think she might still have it. She is that loyal.
I remember my Dad destroying her scooter after I fell off it and had to get stitches in my knee. This is something for which I still take the blame on a regular basis. I still carry the scar as a reminder. Sheila has a LONG memory.
I remember scooting under the fence to visit Susan and Christine – sisters who lived on the Air Force base next to our house in Pearl Harbor. They were our exact same ages and had moved almost as much as we did. They were best friends with each other too.
I remember snuggling next to her and hearing stories before bed about Pooh and Piglet, The Brothers Grimm, The Narnia Chronicles and The Wizard of Oz. It was the start of Sheila’s life-long love of books.
I remember yearly trips to my grandparents’ cottage – sleeping under the “princess” quilts in the front bedroom. Learning to dance. Directing plays. Sneaking to the forbidden rope swing. Early morning trips to pick raspberries and the mosquito bites that accompanied them. Kenny and the infamous tree fort. Nighttime skinny-dipping in Lake Huron. These are my favorite childhood memories of Sheila.
I remember pretending our pillows were (depending on the age) a select Beatle or Monkey and giggling into the night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We reprised the giggling on a trip to England and Scotland as adults many years later.
I remember talking her into trying out for the A choir and running for Senior Class officer, fixing her up with Gary Lico for Homecoming and introducing her to her future husband, Bob. (You can thank me later, Bob.)
As adults, I remember my wedding, her wedding, the birth of my children, and the birth of her children, their weddings, the birth of their children, and laying our parents to rest.
Sheila was always there.
Somewhere around my leaving home for college we became two instead of one. As I went off to find my way, she found hers. We haven’t lived together for many years, but I know that she is there – and she knows that I am too.
Over those years I have marveled at what an extraordinary woman she is. The love with which she cared for my Mom and Dad as they grew older and her tenacity as she advocated for them was superhuman. Her dedication to her family – and the joy she finds in her grandbabies reminds me of the many times Dad called her Little Mother (I am officially promoting her to Great Mother). Her deep and mature spirituality and the grace with which she has lived her life are an inspiration to me, her much lesser sister.
Over the past two years I have had the great joy of sharing a few days with both my sisters alone in Colorado. To find us on this side of life with such a deep connection is a blessing I can’t articulate.
Happy birthday, Sheila. I have ordered a special sand cake just for the occasion.