She has always been there for me. But more importantly than that, she has always just been there. She has been the most constant presence in my life. In my earliest memories my sister and I were together, somewhat forced to spend time with each other. In the late-60s, my family lived on the grounds of a plant in east Texas where my dad worked. On the property, there were only two houses: ours and one across the road. The family in the other house did include a teenage girl, who spent a bit of time with my sister. But most days, my sister and I passed time exploring the creeks and woods near our house, riding our bikes on the dirt roads around the plant, and listening to our mom’s 45 records on our small plastic stereo. We learned to get along, which we did very well.
My sister went to live with our grandparents in Louisiana when she was five. The earliest that children could start school in Texas was at age six. So she spent her first school year away from the family. I do not remember being especially broken-hearted when she left. Maybe it was the knowledge that I would have our mom all to myself; maybe it was the assurance that I knew my sister would return. She did.
My dad was transferred to Tennessee when I was five. I didn’t have much fear of the move. Given our living situation in Texas, I had not had the opportunity to make close friends that I would miss. Above all, I knew that I was taking my best friend with me. My family spent a year in Tennessee before returning to our hometown in Louisiana. And there we stuck.
Living in a small suburban area outside of a small town, other kids were available for friendship. So my sister and I began to spend less time together. Over a long period of time, I had to be weaned from my want of her company. She would expressly state that I did not need to hang out with her and her friends. So, I started to hang out with the boys in the neighborhood. I enjoyed it, almost as much as I enjoyed being around my sister. Almost.
As we entered adulthood, we stayed close. She was the best aunt possible to my son. And when my wife and I divorced, she helped out immeasurably. I had the delight of seeing her become a mother (four times over). And as good of an aunt she is, she is an even better mother.
Now we both are busy with our lives. But we talk on the phone once a week; more frequently when there is some crisis or tough situation brewing with either of us. She is the person that understands how I work, probably more than I know how she does. She had a two-year jump on figuring me out. But I have a pretty good handle on her as well. She is thoughtful and sympathetic. She possesses a sharp wit and a quick mind. She can keep her head in the craziest crazy circumstances. In a word, she's incredible.
I love being in her presence. We laugh together at the most inappropriate times. We cry together when all seems hopeless. We relax in each other’s company, secure in the knowledge that we can just be ourselves: no masks, no shields. When I look into her lovely blue eyes, I know that all will be just fine. Everything.