A Tribute to My Sister and to Power

22 May

Today is my sister’s 50th birthday. Included in the photograph “1964” that I posted on May 2nd is my sister, who is standing second from the right. She is grinning, wearing a checked dress and her fingers are in her mouth. We are not twins, though we look like we’re about the same height. In this photo, I am 4 years old and she is 2 years old. She is XLH-free and grew up to what I consider to be very tall…about 5’8”. Though we weren’t twins, my mother sewed look-alike clothes for us that we wore to church. People probably thought we were twins, until she started growing like a weed! Although I have been shorter than her ever since then, I was still her bossy big sister. I had a LOT of power! She would do anything for me. I guess that’s the power of being the first-born child, though I lost that power when my brother was born. He had no idea I was supposed to be in charge.

My sister and I were very different from each other. I was either reading a book or playing outdoors with a ball or a bike. I also liked to draw. My sister liked to play with baby dolls and play house. She used to ask me if I would play house with her. “Sure,” I’d say, “you go ahead and set it all up and let me know when you’re ready.” So, she’d set up “house” with her Barbie and Skipper dolls, and sometime later tell me that she was ready for me, but by then I had moved on to some other activity, most likely outdoors, and was not interested in coming back inside to play “house.” I am sure I disappointed her a lot! I guess I abused the power that I had in my kingdom. Though she was never able to domesticate me, fortunately, she found a husband who could be domesticated.

When she was in 4th or 5th grade, she told me how babies were made. This is something a “big” sister is supposed to tell her little sister, not the other way around! But, she had learned this forbidden information from a friend. Being very sure of myself, I told her she was absolutely wrong about that and since I was older, I should know, and that was not how it was done. Turns out, she was actually right. I guess nothing in my Beverly Cleary books had prepared me for this new and unsettling information.

I remember at some point, during my teenage years, being envious of her beauty and her long, straight legs and tallness. People always treated her like she was her age or older, while they treated me like I was just a kid or young squirt. I received many condescending pats on my head up until my mid-twenties, and I am pretty sure she never got pats on her head after the age of six. But I was still her “big” sister and had a lot of power with her.

I did receive accolades for my artistic and musical talent, while she was getting praise for her outgoing personality and her beauty. I think this bothered her…she probably wanted some more tangible way to get attention in the world. Don’t we all?

Now, though, I am pretty sure that people, even those who only know her a little bit, are amazed by her wisdom. I have watched her rear three beautiful children and I have never ceased to be amazed by her wise ways of teaching them and preparing them for the world and adulthood. That kind of talent is not something you can learn in a book. I think it is just her natural gift, genetic, if you will. She will tell me a story of something that has happened with one of her children, and her response to the situation and I find myself thinking, “How did she know the perfect thing to say? How did she become so wise? I would have never thought of that!” I am pretty sure that the world is a better place because she brought children into it. She is not only a great human being, but also an exceptional mother. She has sacrificed a lot to be the best parent possible, and I think it has paid off. Don’t get me wrong…I am well loved by her children. I am Aunt Banjogrrl. I run “Camp Banjogrrl” in the summer. I am fun and silly and am willing to teach them how to make any craft or play any stringed instrument that they want to learn. If I don’t know how to do it, I will learn with them. They love me and respect me. I have some power with her children.

But…to my niece and my nephews, my sister is “Mama.” She doesn’t need an “inner warrior.”

Image

 

© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

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4 Responses to “A Tribute to My Sister and to Power”

  1. oceandepths42 May 22, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    What a “keeper” of a photo!

  2. Melissa Bentley May 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    made me tear up. thanks for sharing your thoughts about your relationship with your sister.

    • banjogrrldiaries May 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      Here’s a toast to our sisters! (Raising a glass of sweet ice tea…)

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