"There's a special kind of freedom sisters enjoy. Freedom to share innermost thoughts, to ask a favor, to show their true feelings. The freedom to simply be themselves." Anonymous
So many words, thoughts and feelings come tumbling at me when I look back on my relationship with my sister, Ilene. First and foremost is that I am very lucky to have her on my side all these decades.
Ilene and I at our brother Rich's Bar Mitzvah circa 1974
The Early Years
As you might imagine, becoming a blended family wasn't always rainbows and unicorns. Our families were essentially thrown together and at times we were forced to fend for ourselves. The stakes became even higher when sharing a room was involved as we fought for our territory in the closet, space in the drawers and a seat at the desk. Eventually we got our own phone number and we sparred over that as well. During these heated moments, I learned to stand up for myself and express my true feelings. Looking back, it doesn't matter who "won", what matters is that we learned to negotiate, compromise and figure things out.
I was eight months older but physically smaller so back in the day I got hand me "ups". Now that I'm wiser, I realize my sister wasn't to blame for this. However, at the time, it was humiliating and completely unfair. Being a parent now, I realize fairness is a demon that often rears its ugly head in sibling relationships. This awareness has helped me when raising my own kids to focus on them individually and ensure they each feel heard and supported.
Laugh Until You Cry
We shared a room for six years until my oldest brother went off to college and I commandeered his room. At that point we were teenagers and our common enemy became our parents. This is when we began to share secret escapades and explore the boundaries of freedom.
I won't go into any of the gory details - those come out when we're all together, reminiscing about our adventures with our spouses, children, brothers and other family members. Suffice it to say there were both good and bad times which illustrate to our kids that we were young once too and made our fair share of mistakes. Now our laughter brings tears to our eyes as we remember the fun times we had together.
Grown And On Our Own
Aside from visiting each other during college and traveling together all of our lives, some of my favorite sister memories are centered around our two bedroom apartment in Manhattan. I had moved back to NY to attend graduate school and we were both finally making enough money to enjoy our new neighborhood, the revitalized Flatiron District.
It is here that we threw some epic parties and enjoyed being single in the city. I consider this the time that we officially became "grown ups". We started dating our husbands within days of each other, got engaged within two months of each other and got married within five months of each other. Needless to say it was a whirlwind of planning, dress shopping, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings.
Ilene and I at my wedding November 1995
Past, Present And Future
It was nice to have my sister along for the ride to help with all the wedding details and decisions. She's smart, reliable, has a great sense of style and will always be honest with me. I've turned to her in the past for advice on everything from girlfriends to boyfriends to kids and careers and she hasn't steered me wrong yet. She helps me think through complicated issues and she lends an ear when I just need to vent. I know I can tell her anything and ask for any favor and for that I feel especially lucky.
Her birthday is April 13th which some consider unlucky. The only thing I remember being unlucky about her birthdate was that it sometimes occurred during Passover. This meant she got an awfully dry homemade cake. On the flipside, I recall an Easter egg hunt sleepover party which was tons of fun.
As we grow older, birthdays don't seem to mean as much as they used to but I would like to take a moment to wish her a very happy birthday. I hope all her future dreams come true and she takes some time to do what makes her happy. I'm sure that will involve working out and being with family and friends. I look forward to celebrating together during Passover and I promise the cake will not be awful or dry!
I hope you've enjoyed my second blog and getting a glimpse into my relationship with my sister. If you have a sister or someone you love like a sister, perhaps this motivates you to reach out, connect or just smile. In this way, my goal has been achieved ... I've ignited a spark, we've made a mark together and for that I'm so thankful.