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)


clew said...

I don't have a sister, and my brother is 6 years older than me. I'm happy that you treasure what you have with your sister. :)

Lori, re. your last comment (email) I tried to e you recently, by taking a wild guess that your yahoo ID listed on your profile was also your email address. It didnt bounce back to me but I am assuming you never got it either ... ? (Obviously, I've been thinking along the same lines as you :D)

Macromoments said...

Lori, you brought up a lot of precious memories. I have a sister six years younger than me. We shared a room all those years.

Remember paper dolls, too...and that song that goes, "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight..."?

What a fun post, Lori.

Rebecca said...

My sister is 5 years younger than me, and like the way you describe - we couldn't be any more different. We also shared a room our whole lives until I moved out at 18. I wish I could say that we have a beautiful friendship, but we're not quite there yet; as I'm a soft and fuzzy person - she is not. And although she's made great strides, she's not quite ready yet to view me as a friend, and not just her big sister - if that makes any sense. I keep trying though; I send her "sister" sentiment cards, and try to make an effort to chit chat with her on a regular basis. I'm hoping the gap closes at some point. It seems by the pictures and your memories that you have a beautiful relationship with your sister... that's something to cherish and enjoy, as you obviously do. :)

srp said...

This makes me wish I had a sister. You are so blessed. One brother here, way to far apart in age to enjoy each other as children but now great friends. I guess I didn't have it so bad either.

Lovely post. Happy Birthday Julie!

McSwain said...

Happy birthday to Julie! This post brought back memories of my childhood also. I think the very best writing touches upon our common experiences or our desire for that experience. This is a good example of that--your love and appreciation for your family and your roots touch me, and help me understand the importance of my own roots better.

alan said...

Happy Birthday Julie!

Happy sisterhood to you both!

Those who know our innermost selves are rare in life; that you have had each other always is something wonderful!


Patrick said...

Happy Birthday Julie!!!

Networkchic said...

I always wanted a sister. It just wasn't the same playing Barbie's with my brother. :-)

Great post.

naive-no-more said...

This is a most beautiful post.

Maybe I missed it, but I wasn't sure which one of you is older. In the first picture of when you were little, you (I'm assuming) look like my son with dark hair and in the second picture, you look just like your daughter when she was little.

I'm so happy that you've had such a great relationship with her and with your family.

martie said...

Wow Lori! You brought a lone tear to my eye and it escaped down my cheek with this post. Very nicely written. I have 2 sisters, one older and one younger and I love them both equally but am not equally as close to both.

Happy Birthday to Julie!!

Jacqueline said...

Wow...another very beautiful post, Lori! Thanks for sharing such sweet cherished memories of your wonderful relationship with your sister.
I didn't have a sister, only a brother. So, about 3½ decades ago, I 'adopted' the young orphaned girl (5 yrs. my juniour) when she first came to care for my family with our first-born son. Since then, she's been my sister, my trusted friend, my 'mentor' through thick and thin. :-) she's now my twin grand-daughters' nanny too. A true gem, indeed!

Happy birthday and many more, Julie! God bless.

Doug Bagley said...

In a time when close families are becoming a rare thing, it's refreshing to read about your relationship with your sister.
It makes me think of my family. We have our differences and tick each other off sometimes but when any one of us is in need, be it material, spiritual, or emotional, we're there for each other.
And oh the childhood memories and the mischief we used to get into. It's fun to remember.