Big Sisters Are Sure Strange

My life with her has been a long journey.

Big sisters are strange creatures.

On the one hand, they’re protective and downright motherly.

They are always the first ones to leap to your defense against charges against you. And then again, they can be pretty cruel.

Take my big sister ... please. Jokes aside, she’s nine year older than I am, and is turning the BIG 6-0 this week. That's something she isn’t trying to call a lot of attention to.

Sorry about that.

When I was born, she treated me like one of her dolls, mainly because I could fit into the clothing. She bossed me around, making me play school with her.

She was one mean teacher.

For one Christmas, she gave me math flash cards and made me do the addition thing before I could open up my presents. To this day, I hate math, and I blame my sister.

She would really tick me off my pretending that she took my nose off.  I was nose-less because it was in her hand. Not the brightest bulb on the tree, I believed her and was downright mad at her.

One day, when I was about 5, she told me that if I planted the old grape stems in the yard I would get grapes to eat. I waited all summer for those grapes to grow, weeding them and watering them daily.

She would drop a dime on me at the drop of a hat for committing some household offense. I would get mad and throw a Boston Bruins trash can at her. She would tell my mother that I had anger issues and needed professional help.

When I was 9, things changed in the household for the better when my sister went off to college. School at home was over for me. The flashcards went into the bottom of a drawer.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my sister was basically gone.

A funny thing happened, though, on the way to teenage-hood. Instead of singing, “Ding dong, the wicked old older sister is gone,” I actually missed her. She got married, and eventually moved to Chicago. We visited, but it was different. She was a mom and a wife. I was a teenage boy.

When I went off to college, she moved back to Massachusetts. I would hang out at her house and actually enjoy myself, mostly because we stayed away from math. Then, we had our lives as grownups with families of our own.

Her daughter is a big sister. My daughter is a big sister. They both have little brothers. 

I feel their pain.

It was actually our pain as siblings that brought us together. In a relatively short time, both our mother and father died of cancer. We spent a lot of time together in hospital rooms, making decisions on the care of our parents and just talking. When we had a lot of time together. we became closer.

The nine years apart didn’t seem as long as it did when I was a little kid.

My big sister wasn’t scary anymore and wasn’t a creature after all. Now we are both getting older, and I’m enjoying our relationship.

When I was little, I would have traded my sister for a turtle.

Now she’s an untouchable.

Happy birthday, big sister.

P.S. - Oh, by the way, since I wrote this column, do not expect a birthday card this year. Love, your little brother.


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