One of the benefits of being unemployed is being able to talk to the phone for extended periods of time. I find loading and unloading the dishwasher goes much faster when I’m jabbering with my sister. Living so far away from each other, we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like. I realized today that while everyone loves my sister, the woman, there aren’t many people who know MY Babba. So let me introduce you….
BJ has always felt this enormous pressure to be the caretaker of our family since she is the oldest. I realize this is a pressure that she puts on herself, and now that she is again facing heart wrenching challenges, I want her to know she can just be Little Barb with me. She can cry, she can laugh, she can tell me things that others may not understand. That is the beauty of being a sister. Today, I want to take a step back and give you a little insight to the little girl that I grew up with.
If I close my eyes, I still see BJ with the ever-present smile and beautiful hair – pulled back in French braids and later on flying loose and free and tangled. As a little girl, I remember lying on the bed in Grandpa Short’s room and watching her curl her hair. She never had to look in the mirror. Every part, every strand beautifully wrapped. I can see her with her head lying on the pillow with perfect rolls of pink brush curlers. Ouch! I never knew how she slept on those things. And she could even wrap pincurls! I was always so impressed.
BJ is beautiful now, but as a young woman she was gorgeous. She has a stoic disbelief in that, but she was indeed beautiful. Tall, thin and lanky with a personality that drew everyone in. I can see her in Bermuda shorts and a ruffled halter top, totally oblivious to how stunning she was. Inside, BJ was a storyteller (I think there is a story-teller gene and it’s very strong in our family!). As the little girl lying beside her in the bed we shared, I drove her nuts. I wanted to stay awake and jabber (much like I do now) and she would be patient to a point and then – the ring. She would spin a tale of how she had an invisible magic ring that would transport her to another place. In great detail she would explain that once she turned the ring on her hand she would no longer be able to hear me and I could talk all I wanted, but she would not respond. “Okay, MagCindy, I’m turning the ring now. I love you. Goodnight.” Oh, try as I might, she didn’t hear me. I tried to talk to her, to giggle, to do whatever, but alas, there was nothing to do but turn over and go to sleep. I never understood why SHE got the magic ring and I didn’t.
We laugh about the magic ring now, but it was a big part of our relationship. Just like beauty pageants, nakey-poo, Dear John, ‘I’m from Brazil where the nuts come from…’, walking sticks and all the rest. Our memories are interwoven. We eventually moved apart and lived our adult lives, but we re-emerged as adult sisters with strong bonds. When we talk, we are still those little girls trusting and loving each other with anything and everything. Just like I trusted her to show me how to get the pearls out of a crawl-dad!
Babba is the one I jumped rocks with. Babba is the one that bore the responsibility of answering all my ‘serious questions’. She has always been there for me. She was there for my daughter when I couldn’t be. She has always been the big sister. As we wrestled the grown-up issues life threw at us, we were always there for each other. We held each other and cried over the loss of our sister. A loss we felt in a way that no one else can understand.
I love this little girl, Babba. But more than I love her, I love the woman she has become. I love her connection to her roots and to her mountains. I love her connection to her children and her grandchildren. I love her connection to her siblings and her need to be the big sister. But most of all, I just love her. I love her for who she was when I was growing up and the friend that she is to me now.
So, when you hear me talk about my sister. Know I am talking about a life-long friend. Know that I am talking about the kind of woman you encounter only once in a lifetime. Know that I am talking about my Sis. Small word – big heart.
Friday BJ goes to hear the results of her biopsy. She will be strong for herself and everyone else. I love that about her. She is so many things to so many people. But to me, she’s always been my big sister. For over 56 years now.
I love you, Babba Jo. To the moon and back again. What do you say we just take a walk down to Long Rock and find a few good flat rocks to skip. Maybe we can jump rocks home. Think we can do that without falling and breaking our fool necks?
This morning two sisters had a long chat on the phone. It means a lot. It keeps us aglow inside. We don’t judge. We just talk and we listen – the way God designed sisters to be. So if you pray for my sister, pray for the whole of her and all that she is to each and every one of us who love her. I love you, my sister. Always. And I am with you, willing to let you lay your head on my shoulder. Even though you are older and wiser, you don’t always have to be the strong one. ‘K?