I hadn't seen my sister in two years--two years until last week. She lives in Ohio; I live in Illinois. It's a six-hour drive, if not longer. It's a drive that most often falls on me because my sister owns two horses and acres and acres of land that need to be tended daily and with care. It's not easy to find someone she trusts to stand in for her while she's away.
As my only sister, she is the other person more like me than anyone else in the world. At least, that's what the experts say. We share 50 percent of our genetic code, gender, and the same family--though growing up under the same roof with the same parents did not make for the same experience. My sister was the youngest of four and the most unconventional. I didn't realize until recently how misunderstood and disconnected she felt--sometimes, even unsafe.
I am the oldest of four. Maybe having my parents to myself for more than three years gave me the undivided attention that helps many of us thrive. Sure, the birth of each of my three younger siblings changed the family dynamics. But I was always the oldest and, most likely, the most comfortable in my own skin.
So, decades after my sister and I carved out our separate lives--after we lost a brother to suicide and our other brother to a total disconnect--we are the only two left to iron out our differences and move beyond them.
During my recent visit, my sister suggested and I agreed to see a numerologist. My sister had worked with her before; I had seen her once years and years ago. Before the session, I told my husband about our plan; he responded just as I imagined. "You're not still into that stuff, are you?" Well, yes, I am but only with readers who come highly recommended. The astrologist at the neighborhood street fair or the palm reader in a house with a big neon sign are generally hacks to be avoided. (Okay, that's a bit snarky. But it's my truth.)
Now, it doesn't take a numerologist or astrologist, or a channeler to highlight the differences between my sister and me. She lives alone and likes it that way; I was the first one to marry (and, I might add, the only one) and need (at least, for more often than not) the warmth and caring of an intimate relationship.
My sister lives a simple life in the country with horses, a cabin, a more than 200-year-old stone house, and more acres of land than a small county park.
I'm more of a city gal, excited about the wealth of cultural and educational advantages.
My sister's needs are simple: jeans, shit-kicking shoes/boots, hay for her two horses, seeds for her garden, money for all kinds of alternative medical treatments and diet: acupuncture, ozone therapy, paleo, macrobiotic, chiropractory--I'm sure I've missed something here.
I seek alternative health therapies, too, but often after I've given western medicine a whirl. Or maybe I combine the two. And as far as money--well, I like to spend it when I have it. Nice clothes (though I wear yoga pants most of the time), jewelry, art, classes, vacations, dying my hair (Yep, I'm not ready for gray)--the works. I'm not a shopaholic and often dislike having to buy something to wear to some fancy affair. (A few weeks back, I built an outfit from clothes already hanging in my closet and felt pretty damn good about not having to spend the time or the money.)
Back to the numerologist. I recorded the entire session, tried to listen several days later but found my thoughts wandering like a second grader who is counting the minutes until recess. Maybe it was the neurologist who kept interrupting by sharing her own stories. I tried to fast forward, but my recording app didn't cooperate. I not only missed the numerologist's wanderings but some of the important information, too.
My memory aint' so great these days (The other day, I drove to dance class having left my purse at home. I couldn't find my phone, anywhere. Words don't come as easily. Yesterday, I forgot recycle. Clearly, that's what my brain needs to do.) My sister--I'm sure nervous that I might be losing my mind like our mother did sometime in her eighties--asked me directly whether this lapse in memory was a regular occurrence. I sure as hell hope not.
If you have a sister, you may have had (have) your disagreements. Some of you have figured out how to raise the white flag, call for peace, and dig deeply into the obstacles that have gotten in your way. Others may think of a sister in name only. How many times have you heard someone say that the only thing that sisters have in common is the fact that they were born of the same parents? I think the author Alice Munro had it right in her short story, "The Visitors."
Brothers and sisters were a mystery to her.
There were Grace and Vera, speaking like
two mouths out of the same head, and
Wilfred and Albert without a thread of
connection between them.
Here's to Grace and Vera and to all sisters who "speak like two mouths out of same head--or, at least, value their connection and see it as a road to better understanding, trust, and love.