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Friday, July 31, 2015

Forty Years With A Little Sister

When I was four, my mom and dad came home. “We have news.” We were standing on our lime green and black striped rug in the den when my mom smiled a very big smile beneath a neat bob haircut. “I’m going to have a baby,” she announced. After that, all I remember is jumping everywhere with a smile that hurt really bad. I jumped on top of couches, beds, and anywhere that would take me up. I was going to be a big sister.

Then one morning, exactly forty years ago, I woke to find my grandma Nana there. My mom was gone, giving birth to my new sister Alison. When my mom and dad came home with my new sister, my stomach twirled twice as fast as it did on Christmas and there was that smile again... My wish had come true! I sat on a low couch holding Alison’s pink frilly shape while my older sister Pirrie held her bald head. Everything smelled so good— like Johnson’s baby powder. I was in Heaven. Though I had to share her, I believed that Alison was my very own baby. I wanted to take care of her forever.

As she grew, I got to feed my little sister Gerber baby food with a cute rubbery spoon. I stood on tiptoes at the white faux wicker changing table, carefully sticking a pink plastic topped diaper pin through folded cloth diapers as Alison "gooed" at me. I loved changing her diapers. I made funny faces that made her giggle, and for a little while I believed that I was the best at something— being a sister. 

Later Alison developed a hum that seemed to weave through the background of my childhood. She skipped, bounced, or played through her early years, trailing a happy melody behind. Her fuzzy hair tried to grow, but took a long time. Finally her head produced thin blond pigtails that stuck out like little feathers, twirling through the air, invigorating every person they passed. Her blue flittering eyes and high-pitched soft voice decorated the kitchen, the family room, the backyard…. Making everyone smile. My sister just made me so happy.

Years later, when I was beside myself after the man I was about to marry betrayed me, there came a knock on my door. Guess who? Alison. In one hand, she held a plastic carrier with her cat inside, and in the other hand, she held a suitcase. "I never did like him," she said plunking her things down. She moved in, just like that, until I felt better. One night, she told me that she had dreamt she tied up my ex-fiance with duct tape, leaving him on a beach. Even during my hardest times, Alison made me giggle. 

When Alison was thirty, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I became tormented with worry about her, until I saw how she handled her disease. She immediately gave her diabetes the name "Betty" and often is heard complaining about Betty's bitchiness. But that bitch hasn't slowed down Alison! Last year she ran thirteen half marathons to earn money to raise money for diabetes research. 

Today is Alison's birthday. Forty years ago she arrived, changing me and this world forever. When she calls, the twang of her voice makes me smile, just like it did when she was a baby. Nowadays she's a mom, a wife, a pastry chef, a writer, an editor, an artist, and most of all, Alison is that dry-humored person who will humble you with laughter.

Thank you God for forty years with my little sister. Without her, I wonder if I would be able to find my smile today...

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