My sister recently had a birthday and she asked me to write something about her for my blog. I was having a hard time because of our history together and because I cannot derive inspiration on command. Besides, how do you write about someone who usually stands opposite of you on every word, opinion and sentence that comes out of your mouth? How do you find your muse in a whirlwind of conflict?
So I reflected and pondered on this a bit. Today, on my mother’s seventy-second birthday, my words flowed freely. Thinking about my mom, allowed me to truly give thought to the relationship I enjoy with my sister.
Our being on polar opposites of life’s spectrum was not always the case. For a very long time, at least through my formative and early young adult years we were extremely close. We shared a move to a different state when we were children, we shared the loss of a parent and we shared that special relationship that often surfaces when one sibling (she) is a little older than the other (me).
And then things changed.
As we both took on different roles in life, our relationship became strained.
I didn’t approve of her life choices, she abhorred my judgement of her. I couldn’t see past her mistakes, she couldn’t see past mine. We spent so much time trying to change the other, that in the process years went by and the closeness was replaced by an infinitely wide chasm. The gap was so wide between us at times that we barely had a tangible relationship.
Our dealings, while cordial, always ended in discord. We could not (would not!) see eye to eye on mostly anything.
In the process, she created two human lives that would have a profound impact on my person and would fulfill most of the parental longings life and fate had denied me.
I lavished my love for her on them. It was my way of finding home for this displaced well of affection I had for her. Her children, although separated by an almost twenty year age difference between the two of them, became the progeny I never sired. In them, I focused all the energy I no longer chose to have for her. Her children were (and sometimes still are), what drove us closer and what drew a dividing line between us.
Who could parent better: the one bound by biology or the one bound by duty? We fought, silently and endlessly, for this answer – never quite obtaining a response to what is now an irrelevant question.
Years continued to pass and our relationship would see many ebbs and flows, each episode leaving us either more distant or more closer, but never bonding or separating us permanently. We truly couldn’t predict where we would land, but we always kept coming back to each other because we were brother and sister. It was inevitable, the ties of blood were stronger than all of our strife.
We were bound by an incredible mother who throughout this ordeal simply sought peace between us (while unbeknownst to her at times causing rifts). As I write this today, we seem to be riding a wave of peace right now.
Age has taught me to be more tolerant of her quirks and she doesn’t pay me much mind anymore. Maturity or mortality (maybe!) has a way of focusing your passion for those things which merit positive energy. Arguing with my sister, a fifty-two year old woman, set in her ways, who will probably never change her essential core, seems pointless. I’m sure that arguing with stubborn, opinionated, often-times-ill-mannered me seems pointless to her as well. We’ve reached the impasse that finally can produce the tranquility my mother has longed for all these years.
Is our relationship ever going to be perfect? Not a chance exists in the subterranean location where Lucifer makes his home that this will ever be the relationship of the Bradys. We are somewhere in between Cain and Abel, Richard and Karen Carpenter, Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine – two utterly different people, but very much the children of the same mother.
But for today and for as long as this wave continues, we will be a more socially agreeable brother and sister pair because we are getting along.
In acknowledging that my relationship with my sister has its less than stellar times and that it has a history that resembles more Civil War than Civility in the Colonies, I’d also like to acknowledge a very profound truth: I love my sister and always will Here is another truth: she loves me and always will. Our genuine affection for one another is the given which highlights the irony in our perpetual war.
If I were to describe our relationship in a way that can bring this entire post home, it would be in one sentence. My sister is the oil to my vinegar, and together we comprise the complex, unique flavored dressing that adorns the salad that is my mother’s life.