Saturday, July 30, 2005

Happy birthday, baby sister

My baby sister, Heather, turns 29 today. She seems to be okay with it so far, but we'll see how she handles 30. That's when they usually fall apart. Or at least, that's when I fell apart.

If I may, let me tell you a few things about my little sister. Because not only am I posting this on the internet for all to read (even the 55 gallon barrel killer), but I'm also going to print it out and give it to her as a birthday card because I'm not much of a Hallmark kind of girl. So Sis, Happy Birthday and here's to you -

I was three and a half when she was born. I really don't remember it. There were a lot of really important things going on in my life back then, like toys and crayons and learning to be a diva and I'm pretty sure I spent the night with my Nana when my parents went to the hospital, so I was way more consumed with twisting Nana around my little finger than there being a new baby in my life. I don't remember the first time I saw her, the first time I held her or changed her diaper or anything like that. There are pictures of me holding her and feeding her, but I am obviously quite effectively blocking them from my memory. Either I have issues yet to be discovered in therapy or I'm just getting old. But Mom says I was enamored with her.

My memories of my sister start somewhere around the time I was six or so. She was annoying. She wanted to do everything I did, exactly the way I did it and was essentially my little shadow. Following me around all day saying "But I looooooove you, Sissy!" is not the way to win my affection. I see my three year old doing this now and I cringe to think that she is honest to God driving her older sister insane. But this is the way it must be in the sister/sister relationship. If they don't annoy the heck out of you when they are little, you can really never appreciate their maturity fully when they become tolerable and you begin to like them.

Once, she decided to feed my goldfish while I was at school. I came home to find my fish drowned in a tank full of murky water, half an inch of fish food floating on top. I wanted to kill her. Right then and there, on the spot, just take her out. As she got older, she discovered that my clothes fit her quite well and she began wearing them without permission. She nearly lost limbs over that. The little booger would steal a shirt then cover it with a jacket until she was safely in another building at school and if I'd catch her in the hall with an article of MY clothing on, well the teachers at school were pretty savvy to sibling fights and kept me at bay with mace and a herd of German Shepherds. Yet once when a kid picked a fight with her on the bus, I had her back and ended up in the superintendent's office over it. I slapped the little twerp who was picking on my sister and got in major trouble for hitting a grade schooler. But he messed with my sister and dude, you just don't do that.

And funny, but now that I'm actually writing this story I can't think of any more of the bad stuff that she did back then. Really. As I'm trying to dredge up the bad, all I keep coming up with are the good ones I want to share. Funny how that happens.

Sis and I were polar opposites when we were kids. I was a total bookworm. She was a tomboy. I was content to stay inside reading or writing or drawing. She was out the door when her feet hit the floor and she didn't come home till she was dirty and the sun was down. She was Daddy's girl. I was Momma's girl. I could shoot a gun. She nearly shot me with a gun (and hasn't touched one again since that day). She was all about learning to swim the entire circumfrence of the pool without coming up for air. I was all about the tan. She liked New Kids on the Block. I was into GreenPeace. I was in Drama and Theatre. She ran track. She was a math whiz. Math made me cry. At the end of the day, my Barbies were all placed neatly into the cases with hair combed and all in their original outfits. Sis' were all naked with tangled hair and they were thrown haphazardly into the Dreamhouse.

Yet now, we are so alike it's eerie. We finish sentences for each other. We spontaneously burst into song - the same song and at the same point in the song. Which is freaky in itself, but when we do it in perfect harmony, it's downright scary.

About the time Sis was 14 and I was 17, she suddenly became my friend. No kidding. Like overnight, she was suddenly cool. I'm not sure who did the maturing - she or I. Maybe both. She was sweet and kind and giving, she didn't whine, she didn't copy me, she didn't follow me around going "I loooooooove you, Sissy!" and even better she was suddenly hilarious. She could make me laugh better than anyone. We invited her to hang out with us, my friends and I. She was our little comedienne and was a good one at that. By the time I was 18 and she was 15, we were inseperable. I have so many memories from high school through now involving my sister. Good memories. That kind of makes up for the lack of them when she was a baby - I was saving all that memory storage space for the ones that counted. The good ones that I'll cherish forever.

At our house, Mom had a thing about trying new food. If we'd tried it once and truly didn't like it, we weren't required to take any on our plate from then on. But like once a year Mom would ask, "Have you tried it in awhile? You might like it now." And we'd have to give it a try again. One Sunday afternoon for lunch Mom made brussel sprouts. I hate brussel sprouts - always have and always will. That particular day was the one that Mom decided it had been too long since the little balls of green goodness had touched my tastebuds. She put two on my plate. I glared at her. When Mom wasn't looking, Sis tapped me on the leg under the table and started trying to convey to me without words that she was going to rectify this situation and I would not have to partake of the demon sprouts. Before I knew what was happening, Sis grabbed the sprouts off my plate, shoved them in her mouth and started chewing. She smacked my leg again and I, in a bewildered moment nearly busted out laughing. But as Mom started to turn around I realized what I was going to have to do - I grabbed my fork and then started chewing. Mom noticed the lack of brussel sprouts on my plate and said, "Oh you tried them? See? Not so bad are they?" I was over there just a chewin' up a storm, cheeks seemingly full of vegetable, nodding my head vigorously and going "Mmmmm!". I'm not even sure how the truth was discovered, but when Mom figured out that Heather had been the one to eat the brussel sprouts, she then decided to shove brussel sprouts into my face. Heather sat against the wall, laughing her head off while Mom smeared sprouts all over my teeth, lips and cheeks. It was quite a Sunday lunch, lemme tell ya. Sometimes the best-laid plans . . . but she tried. Or maybe she knew how it was going to pan out . . . hmmmm . . .

Sis and I also started taking clogging lessons when we were in high school. I was nearly 18. She was 14 1/2. We'd take off every week to Afton to spend our two hours learning the finer points of backwoods, hillbilly dancing and every week strategically place ourselves directly behind the Horton boys in line. We not only learned how to dance, but we also memorized those boys' butts. Oh the crushes we had on those two! Something miraculous happened that next summer, too - the oldest, and object of my affection, actually noticed me as well. By then Sis was 15. Only 6 months away from getting her learner's permit so it was close enough to legal in my stupid teenage mind. I would leave her on a country road in my car to drive up and down a mile section - "honing her skills" I told her - while I ran off with the oldest Horton brother in his truck. She never tattled. Heck no! She was doing something wrong as well. (Although I'm quite sure it wasn't as fun as what I was doing.) We had not only become friends, but we had become partners in crime.

But my favorite memory from our teenage years came after I had graduated high school. I was 18 1/2 then. Sis was 15. Dragging Main was still cool in our little town and everyone did it. At the time I had a gold Chevy Cavalier that was rapidly disintegrating before our very eyes. I had run it out of oil, wedged it into a friend's back bumper in the school parking lot, it had a really bad paint job that had crackled, the headliner was falling down and the driver's seat had broken loose from the floor so it was propped up with a brick. But man, this was my car. We drove the heck out of that little thing. One Saturday night, Sis and I were uptown - The radio was blaring something Garth Brooks-ish, I'm sure. We were nodding coolly and smiling at the boys we didn't know, trying to make ourselves seem unattainable in our supercool gold bomb. We were squealing and waving insanely when we saw someone we knew. All in all, just enjoying the night together. Well, as I mentioned Sis is hilarious. I mean, a downright laugh-riot. And I have a really loud laugh. When I am truly amused by something I will just bust out a loud "BWAH!" and then continue laughing hysterically loud. I'm sure she'd spent some time planning her strategy, but she never let on. We got right into the heart of downtown, cars all around us and she made me laugh. Told a joke or something to make me guffaw loudly. I was laughing dramatically, eyes closed, pounding on the steering wheel, royally entertained - only to look over at her after a few seconds to find her completely lying down! She had made me laugh and then hit the lever that laid the seat down flat. I was sitting in my car on Main, laughing myself to death, what appeared to be, completely alone in my car. When I looked over to discover her lying down, she was laughing hysterically herself, but refused to sit up. So then, not only was I laughing all alone in my car, but I was now talking to the invisible passenger sitting next to me!

I was incredibly mean to my little sister when we were kids, telling her that if you didn't pull your underpants and pants up separately after using the toilet it would make you sick. I also told her that she could quite possibly wake up gay one morning. Simply wake up and poof, you were gay. That poor girl lived in fear for years. She was scared to death she was going to wake up to find her sexual orientation changed forever. Little did I know that my sister had OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Had I known, there is no way I'd have played with her brain like that. I thought I was just teasing my gullible little sister, but what I was doing was fuelling an unwilling obsession. When I found out that the "waking up gay" thing had plagued her for years, I cried. I didn't mean to be so cruel.

My sister's journey through OCD has been hard. She was suffering in silence virtually her whole life and no one knew how to help her or that she even needed help. Everyong labeled her "intense" and "serious", but no one knew that deep inside she was obsessing over things uncontrollably. When she finally couldn't take it any longer, I know it took some major guts to ask for help. Because for a non-obsessive person to ask for help is one thing, but a person who obsesses then obsesses over asking for help. I can't imagine what living was like for her all those years. But she has survived and she is stronger because of it. She has also helped Mom and I realize that we, too, suffer from OCD. Of course, I got the crazy alphabetizing the canned goods kind of OCD. I lose sleep over the organization of my pantry, she loses sleep wondering if the world will end tomorrow or that her children will be safe or that she'll wake up gay. I totally got the better deal. God knew who was stronger. At first she was very secretive about her OCD, but as time has gone on, she is more vocal about it. Simply because I think she doesn't want anyone else to suffer like she has.

She's an amazing woman, my sister. She blows me away. She is a talented artist, but sells herself short. She is a stupendous wife and a magnificent mother. She has passion about the things that matter and will give you her heart and soul if you need it. There is no one around who can love you and care for you like she can. She is kind and giving to a fault and is compassionate beyond words.

Occasionally I feel bad for beating the snot out of her when we were kids, but on the other hand, I think if we had gotten along so well as children our relationship as adults wouldn't be near as strong. All siblings fight and fuss as kids. Sadly, some don't forge an adult relationship. I can't imagine my life without my sister. Yeah, we still argue and disagree from time to time, but we're supposed to. That's what makes our relationship better. She is one of my heroes and truly my best friend. There is no one who has encouraged me to write any more than Sis and the very first book I publish will be dedicated to her:

"To Taterbug and all of her naked Barbies. I love you, Sis. - Kiki"


Redneck Diva said...

Charlotte-There's just something about a sister.

I'm in the NE corner - up around Miami. I haven't a clue where Medford is!! We don't venture too far past Tulsa, lol.

Hillbilly Mom said...

What a wonderful post! Ol' Taterbug should be very happy with this birthday gift.

On another note...since everything IS all about me...My post tomorrow will look like I stole your idea, when actually I stole it from Alexandrialeigh at Confessions of a Nobody. I have had it on draft (doesn't that give you a hankerin' for some beer?) for 3 days while I used up the ideas I stole from Deadpanann. Don't worry, though. Mine is a much poorer imitation. It's all about the torture.

D said...

What a wonderful story! I am sure your sister will love it!

Penny said...

Thanks for visiting my site. I have also taught grade 3 and absolutely loved them. Of course, my grade 6 group was great, too. I guess whatever grade you teach, is your current favourite.
Now about your blog, wow, I'm so impressed. First I'm jealous because my life's dream was to have a sister. I'm so envious of that special relationship that only sisters share. Secondly, you write like I would like to. You are funny and entertaining. I'll be dropping by more often.

~ A P R I L ~ said...

Sisters...... I have three half sisters and no sweet, sappy stories to tell you. I'm so jealous.

Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

I laughed until I cried when I read the part about her making you laugh and then hiding. I laughed so hard my mother came in here to find me laughing alone and ask what was going on, which made me laugh harder.

Kinda weird how that goes I guess.

Redneck Diva said...

Dadgummit I wrote comments to each of you and blogger ate them!! Grrrrr.

Anyway, thanks to y'all for commenting. Sis loved the story. We both got tickled again later after she'd read it, just remembering it again. Our husbands think we're insane, but then again, they pretty much always have.

Queen Of Cheese said...

Thanks a lot! I feel like a total ass now that I didn't call my stupid sister and wish her Happy Birthday yesterday! By the way, the invisible passenger story made it to Afton, I just never knew who it was. Thanks for putting a face with the story!!!!!!!! BTW--- Horton boys were the ONLY reason anyone took clogging!

Redneck Diva said...

Mrs.Coach-NUH UH!! I can't believe the story travelled to Afton. Too funny.

Those yummy yummy Horton boys. Oh how I loved that oldest Horton. He only loved me for about 15 minutes once a week, but I was completely okay with that. Yes, I was a slut. But he was a HORTON, come on!!

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