There is nothing like sisters. My heart breaks for any woman who has to make her way through life without one. Sisters are better than gold. They are magic and rich chocolate frosting piled on graham crackers, and hot fudge sundaes with nuts, whip, and a cherry on top. At least that’s how they are for me. Who else can a girl fight with, scream and yell at, pinch and punch, then run outside to swing and dance and simply say, “sorry sister,” and know you are forgiven? Who else can a girl trade bras with?
No one knows a girls heart better than the one she shares parents, pets, and siblings with. And there is something about that unique relationship that bonds us together in a way nothing else ever does. Growing up with sisters is like growing up with extensions of oneself. For me, it was myself divided three ways.
My older sister got the artistic gift and the brains. She could pull a four point as easily as I could make friends. In college, she was the master of charcoal on canvas. My favorites were the nudes. I was shocked by the boldness of the models. Where did that kind of courage or confidence come from? And how did these oh-so-sophisticated students of the arts manage to discover the muscles, bones, and veins that lay beneath the flesh?
My sister painted watercolor dreams and took great care with her brushes, cleaning everything meticulously, showing me how to dry them properly so they would serve her well for years to come. She lived inside herself a good deal of the time, and lived inside the pages of books the rest of the time. Quietly, without anyone seeming to notice, she absorbed all that was useful and worth filing away for the future.
I was envious, of course, and complained on a regular basis. It wasn’t fair. How come she got all the brains and I had to work so hard just to be average? Why could I not, for my life, draw or sketch anything identifiable? That sister took all the smarts and the artistic skills and left none on the table for me. She should have left some for me.
The other sister, the baby of the family, got all the end-of-the-line attention. She was spoiled beyond my dreams. Not only was she the favorite, she was treated like the favorite, right in front of the rest of us!
With six older siblings out of the house, money loosened up big time for mom and dad. The only one left to spend it on was little sister, and spend it they did. She and Mother shopped and bought just for something to do, not out of an actual need for anything, as was the case with the rest of us growing up. Little sister’s closet looked like a giant Nordstrom’s dressing room, packed full and overflowing. She and Mother were having more fun than they had a right to. At night, they’d sneak out to Baskin and Robbins while Dad slept in his easy chair. Mother let her drive her new car. When little sister got her license, they bought her a used car, but it turned out to be no fun. It didn’t have a sunroof. So they bought her a shiny new car with a deluxe sunroof.
She was living the dream while the rest of us were hanging by a thread to the harsh realities of life. Once again I was envious and could hardly believe how unfair my life was. Where was the justice, I wanted to know?
I was the sister in the middle. Shouldn’t I have been a little book smart and artistic and a little bit spoiled and coddled? Why was the middle so…well…stuck in the middle? It was neither hot or cold, big or small, in or out, rare or well done. I stood in the middle and they picked from me what they wanted, one on one end and one on the other. I am what was left over when the other two were finished with me. Still in the middle, thank you. Just you’re average Joe.
Yet, this average Joe did get one thing the other two didn’t: I am blessed with Mothers inappropriate sense of humor and her ability to turn just about anything into a good time. I am my mother’s very own good time girl.