Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Tonight is head massage night again. Perfect. I get to be the guinea pig, which suits me just fine. I can't think of anything better, after another day of phone calls and paperwork. I am having one of those days where I write and then delete it all straight away. Repeatedly.


I will write about something that makes me smile. Someone.

I have one sister. She is 2 years younger than me, and was not a blessing when she was young. She was the baby. I remember being absolutely mortified when she started school, and sat on a bee, and the school secretary brought her to me to comfort. Sisterly love was not an option. She was super bright, and won prizes and excelled at everything quite effortlessly. Sigh. It was a trial.

Our lives were very different when we grew up. We both went to university, and then I got married the year after I graduated, and had my babes soon after. She started teaching, and was the most glamourous maths teacher around town. Those were the days of high heels and big shoulders, a la Dynasty. The contrast with stay at home mum in jeans could not have been more marked. And strangely, I was the one who felt the difference, not her. She always saw me as her big sister. I think I was the one with "attitude". Yes, I was indeed.

Don't get me wrong, I was doing exactly what I chose to do, but she was a reminder of the "other" world out there. She has always adored my kids, and been a very involved aunt, but we didn't have a great deal in common, back then. Our lives were very different. Mine revolved around liftclubs and football and rugby matches, judo and swimming galas, and school homework. She travelled around the world, had a beautiful home, and a sunshine personality to top it all. Sunday's child personified.

We both left South Africa at the same time. She to live in Switzerland with her husband, and me to move here with my family, and suddenly our family was in 3 different countries. In a sense, when she married Peter, it was the start of a relationship for us as sisters as well. Over the years, we have supported each other, flown back and forth for crises, celebrations and holidays. We were both around to support Mum when Dad was diagnosed with Lewey body disease, and we were both there to pack up our parents' home when they had to stay here in England.

We taught David to ski when he was a toddler, by watching the Swiss mums.... our version was one stand at the top of the hill and push him down, and one catch him at the bottom. It worked! He learnt to ski. She is multitalented, and has the most beautiful of homes. She sews, she does amazing woodwork, she has a lovely garden, she "bastels", as she says. Her English is now a mixture of swiss-german and idiomatic english, which has me falling about laughing at times. I now have to check her English translations for her just in case she has used bizarre words. She moves at the speed of light, and is never still.

She scrapbooks, has dolls houses, collects all kinds of things, and can spot a bargain at 40 paces. She can also pull some shapeless thing off a sale rack and look like she is a movie star. You can see what I have to put up with, can't you? She adores her husband, loves her dog, works unbelievably hard, and always has a smile ready. Wonderwoman. When she visits me, I trail around behind her carrying her parcels as she whizzes through the bargain shops finding things to brighten up someone's life which I would never spot. She has imagination and vison. She doesn't cook though, so it is very fortunate that she married a master chef. She will never live down the Christmas when she phoned me to ask which part of the egg was the yolk, when she tried making pastry for mince pies. In true sisterly fashion, I remind her every year. Without fail.

She is the one I went to last summer. I needed to be with family. The fact that Mum was there too meant that there was nowhere else I would choose to be. With my family. She gave me time and space. This is what sisters are for.

The older we get, the more alike we become. We grew up in the same home, and so much of who we are is the maturing of a common history and genes. Good ones. We have the same sense of humour, and outrage too. We are family in the best of ways. I am there if she needs me, and she is here when I need her. We sense things in each other. We see what no-one else sees. Beneath the surface. We also yell at each other when we need to. And say when we don't agree as well. In the end, your family is the most precious of gifts. We have been very lucky. We had the best of parents, and ultimately we discovered we each had the best of sisters too.

Over the years, we have argued, talked, laughed and cried together. We have become the closest of friends. I would trust her with my life, and love her to bits.

She is more than a friend.

She is my sister.


Andrew said...

Sometimes we argue, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry but I always know that I can talk to you about anything and get advice when I need it (even if it is completely wacky sometimes {grin})

Sandy. said...

What a tribute.


Happy Valentine's Day. And enjoy that head massage for me too.


Morning Glory said...

She sounds like the perfect kind of sister I would have liked to have. What lovely words you say about her, and I imagine she feels the same about you. Such a special tribute!!