It always amazes me when I hear people say, “I remember when I was three…” I have no memory of being three years old. In fact, I have no memory of the first time I saw my “Su”, my big sister. That was my name for her for a long time. I do remember that she was my superstar, my idol, and my love! She’s nine years older than I am, and I thought she was the most beautiful person on earth. I followed her around and got on her nerves (a lot). One time I received a spanking for “messing in her make-up.”
She was my world, so I was very sad when she graduated high school and left for college. The situation was aggravated by the fact that our sister relationship hadn’t developed as I wanted it to. My sister and I did not have the Big Sister/Little Sister relationship I saw others had. We loved each other, but as we got older it was harder to see, to feel. It should have been as obvious as a white pearl dropped on a black carpet, but it wasn’t. That was our relationship for years. I complicated it by an unplanned teen pregnancy. I resented my sister for not replacing our mother who passed when I was 15 years old.
I often compared my sister to my friends’ and co-workers’ sisters. I envied anyone (even a stranger on a plane) who joyously shared that they were traveling to visit their sister for a “Sister Vacation.” During the majority of my younger and developing years, I felt alone when hearing others share their experiences with their “Big Sis.” I wanted to share secrets with her. I wanted her to share her secrets. I wanted the laughter, the tears, and the togetherness. We shared a life together. Even though we had separate experiences within the family, we still shared a family. She was there when I discovered I was pregnant; in 1976 in our small town in North Carolina abortion was not an option. She was the one who told our grandmother, the matriarch of our family and the one I most feared finding out. My sister was there, even when she didn’t have to be.
I needed to accept there were many times that my Big Sister was there. As I began to reflect on all of the times she was there, the times she was not faded away. Every family relationship is different. We are all different. My idealistic version of what a big sister should—or should not—be was inconsiderate and selfish. As I began college, traveled, and talked to others about their relationships with siblings, I learned there are no perfect sisters or brothers, but your sibling can be perfect for you. That is my sister. She is perfect for me.
As we have aged, she is now 72 and I am soon approaching 63. We have the best sister relationship ever! We compare aging notes, and I pray I will look as good as my sister does when I’m 72! She is still beautiful and ageless. We have more in common than we imagined, and whenever we visit our hometown or even meet a stranger, they say the same thing: “You all look just a like!” We never saw that before. We have each other to share this season of our lives together. We respect each other, love and support each other, and we are best friends forever. No matter what definition others may place on our journey, I define it as marvelous. I see me in her. I see my mother in her. I see my future in her.
Sisterhood is often complicated. It is not always peaceful; it can be stubborn. It can be hard at times. But sisterhood is also truth, familiarity, history, and most of all love. It is special. I am blessed to be able to spend these seasoned years with my “Big Su.”Leave a Comment