My Sissy

Mary Pat and Idabelle in MadridI have one sibling.  My sister, Mary Pat.  When we were children, Mary Pat and I had sort of an inverted relationship.  You see, I am the youngest child, and 20 months younger than my sister.  As kids I was the aggressive one.  The outgoing one.  Many of the milestone events that happen to children and teens happened to me first.  Mary Pat was quiet, she was more concerned with the right of something than the fun of it.  Her shy behavior was magnified by my gregarious behavior.

I was a holy terror to Mary Pat.  I was loud and unruly and I wanted to be in charge of everything.  I would use my physical strength to try and force issues.  Mary Pat was smart.  Quiet and shy, she used her intellect and her position as the older sister to try and stay in control.  Not a perfect relationship, but it was what we had.

Strangely enough, I really looked up to my sister.  Not that I would have dreamed of telling her so.  One of my first real memories is of going to see our new house in Middletown as it was being built.  Our parents said we could pick out our rooms, and Mary Pat walked into the room at the end of the hall, to the front of the house and said, “I want this one.”  So, I promptly followed her into it and said it was the one I wanted too.   She looked at me, sternly, and moved to the other room and said she would take that one.   I followed her in, and said that was the one I wanted.  I think she thought I was just being a pain, wanting to take whatever she wanted for myself.  The truth is, I didn’t want a separate room.  I wanted to be where she was.

Mary Pat and I had a very distinct relationship growing up.  She was (and still is) brilliant!  I wanted to be as smart and level-headed as she was. But I seemed to also stick my foot in my mouth, or walk headfirst into trouble, without a thought to what I was doing.  I bullied her, she blackmailed me, and that was that. I would be the first person to be rude to her. But if someone else hurt her.  I wanted them in pain. Immediate, long-term pain.  And that was how our relationship stood for many years.

By the time we both grew up and got married, we were very different people.  She was involved in her church, her growing family and in-laws, and her job and continuing education as a teacher.  I was working long days and nights in the world of retail management and quickly burning through the first of two unsuccessful marriages.  We bickered and ignored each other in turns, and mostly only saw each other on holidays or birthdays.  We disagreed on almost everything, and she felt I was immature and that life handed things to me too easily.  I felt she was overly mature and had no idea how to be young and have fun.  She sometimes referred to me as her evil twin, when people commented that we looked alike.   We loved each other, but probably seldom thought of each other as friends.

In 2000, I moved to the “Great American Southwest” and put down roots in Albuquerque, NM.  I had visited for years and truly fell in love with the landscape and the culture of this part of the country.  My father and I drove the 1800 miles from West Virginia to New Mexico.  After living my whole life within 50 miles of my sister, now I was on the other side of the country.  It was strange.  I would bet that for the first few years, we hardly noticed the absence of the other in our daily lives.

In the last few years, my sissy and I started talking a lot more.  Life is sometimes so unexpected.   She came to visit me.  I went home and stayed with her.  We have spent time together, talking about life and getting to know each other as women.  I am amazed to find that my sister and I have a lot in common, that I like her very much.  I am happy to know that my sister is also my friend.  She and I have had very different life experiences, and yet have a lot to offer each other.  I have always been proud of my sister.  Always.  But now, after 38 years of being sisters,  I am proud of her as my friend as well.  I love you sissy!!!


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