Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Happy Birthday, Julie
I never remember a time without my sister. We were companions from the beginning; those early days a collage of so many different memories. We were little girls in flannel jammies, pedal pushers, matching dresses and shiny pony tails. Wherever one of us was, you were sure to find the other; two colorful peas in a pod, twins born in separate years: siblings, sisters, friends.
Alike in many ways, yet so different in others.
Julie: standing patiently while Mom braided her long wavy tresses.
Lori: yowling as a comb went through her short strands of straight, fine hair.
Julie: wearing her delicate bracelets with care, then tucking them safely away. (She has them to this day.)
Lori: losing little gold squares, one by one that dangled from her Ten Commandments bracelet as she climbed trees, scattering them like little messages across the farmyard.
Julie: quick to anger - quick to forgive.
Lori: a pot, simmering on the back burner for hours in silence...and taking her time reducing the heat.
And the memories:
-Playing Barbies for hours inside the low window of our bedroom.
-Listening to Eddy Arnold, Ricky Nelson and Richard Chamberlain on our record player; pretending we were the cast of "The Monkies" and "Gilligan's Island".
-Lying back on the uppermost branches of our big evergreen trees, swaying with the breeze and enjoying the bird's eye view.
-Building snowforts in the winter, bread sacks wrapped around our feet inside our rubber boots, and in the summertime, making clubhouses deep inside the currant bushes that lined the ditches across the road.
-Riding in the back of the grain truck on the hydraulic lift at the elevator during deep harvest.
-Giggling at the supper table, at church, during my brother's recitals.
-Putting my cold feet against her warm ones in our big double bed.
-Our matching dresses, made by Mother, which we named: Our "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" pattern, our cherry dresses with the white pleated skirts and big red sashes, the cowboy vests and skirts, the cute bright-colored jumpers, the red scratchy Christmas dresses. And the colors; she in pink, me in blue.
-Mother reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us in bed at night, long after we could read ourselves, just to have that time together.
-Lying in the sun on lazy, summer afternoons.
-Listening to America's Top 40 with Kasey Kasem, and trying to stay up to catch the late movie before the T.V. turned to snow and the Star Spangled Banner was played.
-Spending hours on the front porch with our friends during the long summer days, in the evenings, during a thunderstorm...
-Trick-or-Treating on the farm when we were little, then when we were older, dressing up just to be silly.
-Walking around town with Mom on Christmas Eve night, singing carols.
-Being more than sisters during the last 43 years: Being friends.
As our childhood and youth disappeared into adulthood, our paths came to a fork and veered off in different directions. We went to college, began jobs, got married and started families. We slipped in and out of sibling consciousness during those years of joys and trials in our lives, eventually coming back to the sisterhood that is so familiar and holds us close.
Life has touched us in different ways...but we are still the same; our names forever linked by our beginning and the years we've shared. My sister has been a lighthouse in my life that has brought me through stormy waters, waiting on a calm shore; an anchor who has held me on solid ground. Sharing our lives, our family, our experiences has made me a stronger, better person.
God knew I needed someone to hold my hand through childhood, to boost me through adolescence and help me grow up. He placed my hand in Julie's and gave us a gift.
My sister, my friend. My past, my present. A future together. A treasure, forever.
(Sept. 25, 2005)