Thursday, October 02, 2003

My Sister, Mary

But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” ~ Ruth 1:16

This past weekend I was talking on the phone to our daughter-in-law, Erin, and she had a few humorous stories about things the kids had said or done. The other day her one-year-old, Gabriel, got a hold of the cordless phone. After she took it away from him the phone rang. It was the sheriff’s department calling to make sure everyone was all right because they just received a 911 call. Of all the numbers he could have pushed!

Another time Asher said: “Mommy, our baby is growing up!” They’re going to a new babysitter now since Erin started nursing school so when she picked them up the other day Asher looked sad. He said, “My friend wasn’t there today, Mommy. Gabe had a friend, but I didn’t.” Then Erin was wondering how they liked their new sitter so she asked Asher if she was nice and he said yes. Then she asked him if she ever yells at him and once again he said yes. Feeling a bit concerned, Erin inquired about what she said when she yelled at him and Asher replied, “She said: Be careful!”

My sister Mary gave me a comic strip recently. She said it reminded her of me. It was The Family Circus by Bil Keane and it showed two little kids standing on the sidewalk watching a third boy walking towards them. The one kid says to the other one – “Oh, no! Here comes Billy with more cute things his grandmother said.”

Speaking of Mary – you guessed it – she has a birthday coming up! This Sunday, October 5, she will be celebrating her 47th birthday. Mary and I are just about two years apart in age, but we’re as different as night and day. How is it, then, that we have been the best of friends for nearly our entire life? (With the exception of that period of time when she hated my guts because I wore one of her new shirts before she even wore it and after she specifically told me not to! But we won’t talk about that.)

Mary and I shared a room up until the time that she started high school. By then, a few of our older siblings had moved out, so that freed up one of their rooms. Mary was the best big sister I could ever hope for. Whenever I had trouble falling asleep, she would sing hymns to me from church – like Ave Maria or the Our Father. It worked every time!

The thing I remember most about our childhood is the laughter. Like most sisters, we laughed and giggled about the silliest things. In fact, whenever one of us was feeling blue, we had these imaginary giggle pills that we’d take – and they really worked! But then there were those times when the giggle pills got us into trouble. Like when our dad would come into our room at night to tell us to quiet down and go to sleep. After ignoring repeated warnings, we would suffer the consequences on our backsides.

Mary knew how to play the guitar and she also wrote songs, so she and I would often sing together. In fact, when our parents had dinner parties, several of us girls would entertain the guests by performing for them. We sang songs like Michael Row Your Boat Ashore, 500 Miles, Lemon Tree, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and White Coral Bells (which we sang as a round). I still love those old songs.

Mary’s been with me through thick and thin. When we moved to Singapore and had trouble adjusting to a new high school in a foreign country, we were each other’s only friend. She was there when I came home from my first date with Keen. She was in my wedding and I was in hers. One time she came for a visit and noticed that our oldest son, Jared, was riding a bike with a banana seat that was too small for him. Well, Aunt Mary was absolutely appalled and promptly made her way to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy him a brand new bicycle. When her twins were born, I had the privilege of being there before, during and after their birth. And when she told me that Chloe’s middle name would be Eileen, I was overwhelmed with joy. More recently, I supported her during a painful divorce.

Mary is good for me. She makes me feel special. She calls me “Bean.” I remember how we laughed until we cried when I was at her house and she asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee. “Coffee, Bean?” she asked. We still laugh about that. Everything is funny when I’m with Mary. But she’s got it all wrong. She’s the truly special one.

I found the perfect poem for Mary that I’d like to share with you. Ironically, it comes from a book of poems about sisters that Mary gave me for Mother’s Day last year. This is my birthday wish for you, Mary….. sent with all my love.

You Are a Very Special Sister
By Sydney Nealson.

I want you to know how amazing you are.
I want you to know how much you’re treasured
and celebrated and quietly thanked.

I want you to feel really good about who you are.
About all the great things you do!
I want you to appreciate your uniqueness.
Acknowledge your talents and abilities.
Realize what a beautiful soul you have.
Understand the wonder within.

You make so much sun shine through, and
you inspire so much joy in the lives of
everyone who is lucky enough to know you.

You are a very special person, giving so many people a reason to smile. You deserve to receive the best in return, and one of my heart’s favorite hopes is that the happiness you give away will come back to warm you each and every day of your life.