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by Linda Spear
I hate my sister. I wish I didn’t but it just worked out that way. She’s the older one…by almost nine years and I surprised her, as well as my parents, when I joined the family. I was about four when I had to ask them what being “an accident” meant.
I understand that my sister was less than thrilled that the accident happened on her turf and she became my frequent and unwilling babysitter.
At age 16, she left for college. I missed her terribly, so I wrote her childish notes that my mother would mail and she would not acknowledge. By age 20 she was married to a graduate student, who wasn’t interested in a kid sister either.
It hurt. My mother, by then, had gone to full time paid work for the first time because my father had been emotionally annihilated by depression.
When the time came for college, I went to a university where scholarships, grants and a work study program allowed me to thrive. I could live in a dormitory, go to classes in the morning, work in the afternoon and study at night.
There was noise everywhere and I learned to study and sleep through mayhem. It was there that I met my husband and after graduation, I moved out of state and away from both my parents and my sister. I didn’t miss them at all. My in-laws were inclusive and loving and I got used to a brand new life.
During these early years, my sister had two daughters. Her husband bonded with his girls shortly before he left them all for another woman. That’s when the change occurred. All of a sudden I had worth to my sister—enormous worth.
We had no children at the time, so our weekends were used to soothe her broken heart. We also took care of my nieces because they were part of us. We became their comfort zone while my sister cried out her anguish over her broken life.
When her children left home for college, she assumed her place in my life as an extension of my marriage, now complete with children.
As a child, I had no choice as to who my mother left me with or where. As an adult, I could decide whether I wanted her companionship on a regular basis. I guess it would have been okay if she bothered to be kind to my children. She would deliberately ignore them and when she wanted my ear, she would chase them away.
It didn’t take long before we all recognized that not only did she not have interest in them, as their birthdays would go by and she would not even remember to send them a card or call.
My life was about to change again. This time, my husband got physically sick and I needed to work full time—often two jobs—to support us. That’s when my sister encouraged me to divorce my husband and move in with her.
The final break with her happened when I developed a serious eye condition that required a series of surgeries. When I called to tell her my problem, she told me that I was acting out and I should go see a shrink. She screamed that I was out of my mind and not to forget that she needed me. That’s when my husband who could not help but hear her rant, grabbed the phone and hung up. While I went through the surgeries and follow up, she recognized that I, indeed, had a chronic problem. But when she tried to reinstate herself in our lives, my husband kindly told her to leave us alone.
During that time, she must have degraded us to our nieces who haven’t spoken to me since. Their choice; I guess they hate me too.
But somehow, I miss having a sister, even though our relationship was one sided. She is smart, funny and interesting when she is feeling up to it.
It’s unlikely that her children will tell me when she dies and I’m assuming that will be the case since she is older than I. But surprises do happen. I could slip on the proverbial banana peel long before her day comes.
But does it matter? To me it does. In my way, I always wanted to find a middle part of life’s road to share our DNA.